Rachael Maskell MP, Shadow Civil Society Minister
Rachael Maskell MP, Shadow Civil Society Minister

Right now there is a compassion-powered network of activity reaching deep into the lives of people across our communities, stopping hunger, providing the antidote to loneliness, sorting out debt, caring for sick people and animals, and protecting our planet. The dedication cannot be costed, except through the gladly given sacrifices of this army of volunteers. Right now people’s lives are being touched by kindness, love and practical help. Right now charities are demonstrated their value and worth.

But right now charities have been forced to scale down their programmes, sell whatever assets they have and make their highly valued staff redundant. Not because they want to or have been imprudent in their stewardship, it is because Government closed their shops, stopped their fundraising and failed to help at a time when demand for help soared.

Government failed to provide the very support packages charities and social enterprises needed to survive the turbulence of Covid19. Fundraising plans have been scrapped or paused, reserves have been spent, and staff have made sacrifices. But with over £10bn lost in income and just £750m made available for undertaking additional Covid19 work, nothing was set aside by the Government to protect the future social infrastructure of our country.

Right now the sector is crying out, ahead of the budget, for attention. Its comparable asks are miniscule compared to the waste lavished on dodgy contracts which never delivered. Right now charities are demanding that the Chancellor steps in and saves them.

As the vaccine is rolled out, thanks to the partnership between the NHS and the voluntary sector, eyes turn to the recovery phase of our economy and society. Charities will lead that community recovery, but if they are not supported the recovery will be take so much longer and be far more costly.

Right now, Labour is standing side by side charities and the whole social sector, championing their cause. As a Party, Labour has a shared history with sector of service, reaching into the very parts of society the establishment fails to see. Together, through the years, we have sought to plug the gaps and meet the needs of so many in so many different ways. We aspire so others may aspire and we serve so that others may serve.

Right now Labour is calling on the Chancellor to step in and meet the urgent needs of civil society organisations so that people across our communities can be secure.

As our nation’s health recovers and our economy recovers, civil society must recover too. It will be the communities in the most deprived areas that will need the most support. This is where our community charities bring their expertise so people don’t just survive alone but thrive together.

We want to see medical research advance though our charities, we want to see animals well cared for and our environment protected, we live to see Labour’s commitment for the UK to be the best country to grow up in and the best country to grow old in met, and through the infinite number of causes the public funds and supports, we want our nation’s recovery to lead to a society which is more equal, caring, just and inclusive. This can only be realised if our charities are at its heart.

Our values, our heritage and our future all depend on a vibrant civil society, but right now, there are no guarantees that we can depend on the certainty that the UK’s safety net will be there. It is time for this Government to answer Labour’s call and to protect the very survival of our charitable sector. We need this right here and right now.

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