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Civil Society Organisations (Financial Support)

Volume 558: debated on Wednesday 6 February 2013

1. How much financial support the Government gave to civil society organisations in (a) 2009-10 and (b) 2012-13 to date. (141649)

It is estimated that the Government committed £13.9 billion to general charities in 2009-10. As the hon. Gentleman will know, data for 2012-13 are not yet available.

Thousands of people in every one of our constituencies depend on the services provided by voluntary bodies. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations estimates that funding for the sector will fall by £3.2 billion during the current Parliament, while the Charities Aid Foundation says that private giving to charities has fallen by 20%. The big society is shrinking. How are the Government going to give it the resources it needs to provide services for our constituents?

The Government are doing a great deal to support our charities. We are encouraging giving, volunteering and social investment, and we are trying to make it easier for charities to help us to deliver public services. There is less money around as a direct consequence of the actions, and the fiscal incontinence, of the Government whom the hon. Gentleman did not adorn. We all have a role and a responsibility to support our charities, but this Government are doing their bit.

That very same research by the Charities Aid Foundation clearly showed that 85% of respondents were concerned about the future financial viability of charitable giving. In view of the Minister’s response to my hon. Friend the Member for York Central (Hugh Bayley), may I ask why he does not share those concerns?

I do not need any lectures from Labour Members about the extent of the pressure that the charitable sector is under. At a time when resources are very constrained, the Treasury has introduced new tax incentives for giving, including the gift aid small donations scheme. Between them, those incentives will be worth hundreds of millions of pounds to the sector during the current Parliament. We are providing match funding for giving, and investing in new and innovative ways of encouraging it. The Government are showing a great deal of creativity in trying to connect people with the chance to give to and support charities in their communities.

Does my hon. Friend agree that the Kent Air Ambulance, the Pilgrims Hospice in Canterbury and homelessness charities such as Porchlight and Catching Lives demonstrate that there is a healthy sector in Kent? Does he also agree that the most successful elements of the charitable sector are those that raise the bulk of the funds themselves—with some help from the state—rather than the client organisations whose number increased under the last Government?

My hon. Friend, who is a tireless supporter of charities in his constituency, has raised an important point. It is worth reminding the House that 75% of charities receive no income at all from the state, and that 80% of the public funding that goes to charities goes to organisations with incomes of more than £1 million. We are actively trying to encourage more charities to live within their means and raise their own money by promoting the kind of giving that I mentioned earlier.