Autumn Statement 2015 – what it means for the Charity and Not-for-Profit sector

Posted On November 25, 2015 By mhauk

Sarah Case, Head of our Not-for-Profit sector shares her views on today’s Autumn Statement:

“It will be no surprise to those who watched the Chancellor deliver his Autumn Statement that some of the immediate focus of press commentary was on Mr Osborne’s “tampon tax”, delivering an annual funding pot of around £15m to support women’s charities whilst they continue to campaign for the zero rating of VAT on women’s sanitary products. A number of other headline comments promise on the face of it, commitments to additional funding being available for certain parts of the sector.

The ability of local authorities to levy up an additional 2% on Council Tax to be used exclusively on adult social care which, together with a Better Care Fund from 2017, is intended to allow local authorities to focus on their core services and increase the prices they pay for care, to cover the increased costs of the National Living Wage.

Charities providing early years childcare will be pleased to note that there has been a review of the cost of childcare provision and from 2017-18 there should be an increase in the average hourly rate received by the childcare providers. Staff costs are a significant part of the service delivery here and the introduction of the National Living Wage and auto-enrolment have been concerns in this sector.

Further extension of the National Citizenship programme will benefit a number of charities who already deliver this programme, with the target expansion to 300,000 places by 2019-20.

Increased investment in the Arts Council, Museums and Galleries is not quite as generous as the Chancellor may have liked us to believe as this ensures that their funding is protected in cash terms until 2019-20.  As the arts has suffered fairly deep cuts in recent years this will give some comfort but does not restore the balance. The government has committed to exploring with the sector a case for a new tax relief for museums and galleries in order to develop strategies to widen the audiences.

The Autumn Statement has reaffirmed a commitment to mental health as well as physical health and charities in this area will no doubt be keen to see the plans to be outlined in early 2016 and will be hopeful that the increased funding budget will address the severe funding shortages in the sector.

Further investment has been promised for social impact bonds to help deal with issues such as homelessness, mental health and youth unemployment under locally designed schemes.

Housing associations will be watching carefully how the announced pilot scheme with five housing associations to extend the ‘right to buy’ scheme will impact them going forward.

The review of business rates will not be reported on until the Budget in 2016 and so charities will have to wait to find out whether the transition of business rates to the local authorities puts at risk the mandatory and discretionary reliefs currently received.

We will, in due course, see how the promised funding commitments translate to the charities delivering work in these areas”.

If you would like to discuss any of these issues in more detail or you would like to speak with a member of our team, please contact Hannah Farmborough or call on 0207 429 4147 to be put in contact with your local representative.