Climate for charity campaigning is getting worse

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"Atmosphere of intolerance from Whitehall has grown" says campaigners

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25th January 2019 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

Many charity campaigners believe the climate for campaigning has deteriorated over the past year.

A survey conducted by the Sheila McKechnie Foundation (SMK) shows that 49% thought the environment had got worse for charities over the past year, with only 16% saying it had not.

They said there was a feeling that the, under the strictures of the controversial Lobbying Act, the "atmosphere of intolerance from Whitehall has grown" and "some charities are increasingly less certain about when, how and how boldly to campaign".

This is borne out by separate research by global civil society group Civicus, which said the space for campaigning in the UK has “narrowed”.

The SMK research found a perception that funding was becoming more difficult to come by, and pointed to negative perceptions of civil society and negative media coverage.

Asked what they thought civil society organisations should do to improve the environment for campaigning, responses included more collaboration between charities and getting the message across that communicating that campaigning is part of a healthy democracy.

Sue Tibballs, chief executive of SMK, said: "Despite warm words from the government about charities being free to campaign, it continues to impose gagging clauses and refuses to abolish or even amend the lobbying act.

"At a time so many feel their voices are not heard, the public, including some of the most vulnerable people, need us to be at our best.

"If ever there was a time for civil society to come together to speak loudly and clearly for the removal of these impediments, it is now."