Kezia Dugdale: Labour’s pledges to the third sector

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Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale writes for TFN

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5th June 2017 by TFN Guest 0 Comments

Charities and voluntary groups are a crucial part of our cities and communities and they deserve our support.

That is why the SNP’s cuts to local government are so damaging and disgraceful.

Nationalist ministers have slashed £1.5 billion from local services since 2011, and will cut £170 million from local government in this year alone.

These cuts hurt everything from schools to care for the elderly. They inhibit the life chances of our children and the quality of life of our parents. All too often, it is the poorest, the most reliant on local services, that are hit hardest.

And they also restrict councils’ ability to fund the vital work of the third sector.

Kezia Dugdale

Kezia Dugdale

A Labour government will support our third sector – not demand it does more with fewer resources

Charities and voluntary organisations operate on fine margins. As TFN has reported, a third of nearly 400 local voluntary organisations surveyed have an income under £25,000 and 87% have an income under £1 million.

We know that local government is increasingly struggling to support charities and voluntary groups who are so crucial to our communities.

Pressures on council budgets inevitably filter through to the organisations they fund, leaving both inadequately resourced and unable to plan for the long-term.

The SNP has created a vicious circle of cuts that hit the poorest, but also those organisations that do so much to help those in need.

There is a different way.

Labour believes the richest in society should pay their fair share. We would ask the top 1% of earners – those earning over £150,000 a year – to pay a 50p rate of tax.

That would generate vital funds for investment in valued local services and the third sector.

Across the UK, a Labour government will bring an end to failed Tory austerity and rebuild our social security system, ravaged by years of Tory cuts.

Labour’s tax and spending policies would mean an extra £3.1bn for the Scottish Government. As our manifesto makes clear, Scottish Labour would use that money to alleviate child poverty, invest in education and the NHS, and ensure that local authorities and the third sector are adequately resourced and able to plan for the future.

But it is not just the work of the third sector that is vital – it is its voice too.

Both the Tories and SNP have tried to gag charities. Labour, in both Holyrood and Westminster, has defended charities and fought to ensure their voice is heard.

A Labour government will safeguard our democracy by repealing the Lobbying Act, which has silenced charities, and recently led to Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace being fined £30,000 for falling foul of the ridiculous – and in many cases, indecipherable – restrictions that have been imposed on legitimate campaigning activities.

We will also institute real reform of the lobbying industry, with a statutory register of lobbyists and a toughening of the rules governing former ministers and senior civil servants’ business appointments.

A Labour government will support our third sector – not demand it does more with fewer resources.

A vote for Labour on 8 June will deliver a government for the many and not the few.

Kezia Dugdale is leader of the Scottish Labour Party.

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