News 17th October 2014

Charities, politics and civic space | Francis Maude’s response

by Tim Hughes

The following response from Francis Maude (Minister for the Cabinet Office) to the UK OGP civil society network’s letter on charities, politics and civic space was received earlier this week:

Mr Tim Hughes
UK OGP Civil Society Coordinator
33 Corsham Street
London, N1 6DR

1 October 2014

Dear Tim,

Thank you for your letter of 10 September regarding charities, politics and civic space.

This Government believes that charities have an incredibly important role to play in helping to shape Government policy in the UK and we are committed to ensuring that there are platforms to enable this.

Brooks Newmark’s comments were made with regard to charities engaging in party politics and do not contradict our commitment to opening up space in government policy making. Both charity law and the Charity Commission’s guidance are clear: charities can engage in political activity that supports their charitable purpose but they must not engage in party politics.

The Open Policy Making team within my department is leading the effort to encourage greater collaboration between policy makers and sources of wider expertise, recognising that civil servants do not have a monopoly on good ideas; we are committed to ensuring that the civil service is engaging with the broadest range of people, be they international organisations, academics, think tanks, local authorities, local or national businesses, the voluntary and community sector or individual citizens.

The OGP provides a fantastic opportunity for such engagement and I continue to champion the need for more responsive and accountable government. Indeed I think this is the only route to genuine reform, and the development and implementation of our OGP national action plan demonstrates what can be achieved when government and civil society work together.

I would like to take this opportunity to invite representatives from the UK OGP Civil Society Network to a meeting to discuss the strategic engagement of civil society in the ongoing implementation of the UK national action plan.

I have passed on your comments about the legislation around non-party campaigning to the Minister for the Constitution.