Anti Advocacy: Silencing the Sector?

Richard Warrington from VAL's Supporting the Sector Team talks about the Government announcement of a 'pause' in changing grant conditions to prevent lobbying, after outcry from the third sector.

Anti Advocacy Clause in Grant Agreements What is it? You may have heard reports in the news about the governments’ announcement that organisations that receive government grants will be barred from using these funds to lobby government. Here at VAL we’ve been trying to unpick what this might mean for our members…

What’s the government’s argument? In its announcement of this clause the Cabinet Office argued that some organisations divert taxpayers money to lobby government rather than investing in good causes or public services. The Government is clear that organisations can use their own money to lobby. You might ask; “Where’s the problem? - surely government money shouldn't be used to argue with government".

What’s the problem?Well, as a group of Charities said in a strongly worded letter   in February, “As currently drafted…those [charities] working on programmes receiving any grant funding would be prohibited to speaking to MPs about developments in their local area, suggesting improvements to policy or legislation [or] or responding to government consultations.” In short, the clause is written so widely, that it could prevent organisations in receipt of grant doing their job or making their voices heard on any issue.

Some good news? Thankfully, after a storm of complaints from the third sector, the Government announced a ‘pause’ in bringing in the clause. NCVO, ACEVO and SEUK immediately issued a statement arguing for the clause to be dropped altogether. They have also argued that, at the very least, the government should formally consult with the sector. Of course, we’ll be keeping our eyes open and letting you know how you can get involved as things develop.

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