Archive for August, 2015

Charities need to defend themselves

I have written before about the threat to the income charities make from telephone fundraising. But the argument that charities should be allowed to call members and supporters who are signed up to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) has been lost. From now on, charities will be unable to call people registered with the TPS unless they have explicitly given consent, i.e. notified the charity that they are happy to be called.

This means that some charities will no longer be able to speak to 70-80% of their donors and charity income will drop by an estimated £40 million a year. Ultimately it is not charities which will suffer; it is the causes and people for which we exist.

With less telephone fundraising, the quest to find an unobjectionable way to ask people for money will go on. One reason telephone fundraising caught on was that it was relatively low cost, meaning more money went to beneficiaries. Any suggestions of alternative fundraising channels – cost-effective and inoffensive – are welcome.

Charities will find other ways to raise money, but the existential crisis of the charity sector looks set to continue. Continue reading ‘Charities need to defend themselves’

What the Labour leadership candidates are saying (or not saying)

Having been very critical of the Government’s record on the environment in its first ten weeks of office, I have spent some time trying to find out what the candidates for the Labour leadership are offering. It has not been easy.

Liz Kendall’s website has a few policy speeches, but they are light on detail and there is little of interest for CPRE’s agenda. On housing, for instance, the Guardian quotes her as saying: “I don’t want to see £27bn going on housing benefit. I want to see that money going on investment in new homes.” Quite right, but how? “We are going have to rethink what we do.”

Yvette Cooper’s website has about 80 news stories, but again it is hard to find much policy detail. Until now, it has all been quite vague. For instance, it is reported that Cooper is committed to 300,000 homes a year, but (and I accept I may have missed it) I could find no detail on this policy. Now I have seen a leaflet promising “over 2 million homes in a decade – reviving the bravery of post war governments to build new Eco towns and Garden Cities”.

Andy Burnham has issued a manifesto which at least manages to say something. But for better or worse, the candidate with the most detailed policies is Jeremy Corbyn. This is partly what has won him so much support.

Labour looks a long way from power. Does any of this matter? I think it does, not just because one of the candidates might become Prime Minister, but because an effective opposition should have influence.  One reason the newly elected government has been so abysmal on the environment is that it has faced no serious Parliamentary challenge. And when the last Labour government did good things on the environment, it was at least partly because it was challenged to do so by a credible Conservative opposition in its ‘vote blue, go green’ phase.

So I think this contest matters to CPRE, and it as CPRE chief executive that I am writing this blog, not as someone who was active in the Labour Party as recently as 1999.

What, then, do the candidates say? Continue reading ‘What the Labour leadership candidates are saying (or not saying)’

In defence of the Green Belt on its 60th anniversary

The Green Belt is extraordinarily popular both with the general public and with politicians. Two-thirds of the general public say it should not be developed and in the recent general election politicians of all parties, from the Prime Minister down, queued up to say how much they love it and want to protect it.

So, what is the problem? Why does CPRE feel it necessary to launch a big campaign on the 60th anniversary of the introduction of the Green Belt as a national planning policy?

There are two reasons. First, in spite of all the support for the Green Belt, real and rhetorical, it is being steadily eroded, particularly by new housing. Second, as any reader of newspapers and magazines such as the Times, Financial Times or Economist will know, opponents of the Green Belt are growing in influence. Continue reading ‘In defence of the Green Belt on its 60th anniversary’