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Announcement Re: Anti-lobbying Clause in Grant Agreements with Charities

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Tue 15 Mar 2016

The Cabinet Office has revealed that councils will not be required to include an anti-lobbying clause in grant agreements with charities if they have generated the money for the grants themselves. It is likely however that the government will recommend it as best practice.

Recent discussions have been conducted between Cabinet Office officials and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations following concerns raised by some charities about the anti-lobbying clause due to come into effect from 1 May 2016 as part of the new and renewed grant agreements.

This clause will ensure that charities are not able to use such funds to lobby government or parliament.

The NCVO contacted officials for clarification on what would be considered as influencing activity. Whilst officials maintained that the clause was not designed to prevent any specific activities, they cited that, for example, submitting written evidence proactively to parliament could be deemed as inappropriate use of funds, whilst giving evidence to parliament at parliament’s request would not.

It was noted that the Secretary of State for each department would be able to grant exemptions to the clause, however it is likely that few exemptions would be made. Such exemptions would also have to be reported to the Cabinet Office.

Charlotte Ravenscroft, Head of Policy and Public Services at the NCVO expressed concern that "The overall message this clause sends to charities is a negative one. It implies that government will take a critical view of any campaigning or lobbying activity and that you could risk losing your grant funding if a minister or official believes you have crossed a very vaguely drawn line about how it was to be spent."