Communities: Charities and Volunteers

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:27 pm on 13th February 2019.

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Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 4:27 pm, 13th February 2019

I thank the hon. Lady for raising the importance of working across communities to support people in need. It is absolutely right for food banks to play their part, as they have for many decades through churches and local organisations. It is absolutely right that when people are in need, we have the opportunities and the partnerships to reach out to them.

I was talking about my vision, and the Government’s vision, for civil society. My third focus is on harnessing the energy of our young people and ensuring that there are plenty of opportunities for them to contribute in their communities. We want to create the conditions for a bold and bright future in which civil society is able to play an even greater role than it does today. Those themes are captured in our civil society strategy, published six months ago. I will briefly update the House on how we are pursuing our vision, but let me first thank my team of officials for their incredible outreach and dedication in supporting the sector and connecting communities through the strategy and for working so well.

The United Kingdom is already one of the most generous places in the world. Last year, the public donated £10.3 billion, and we have heard about millions of people who volunteered in our communities on each and every day of that year. Gift aid is now worth more than £1.2 billion to charities. Since 1990, when John Major was Prime Minister, £15 billion more has been given to good causes. That is the most successful charity tax relief in the world, and I am delighted that the Treasury has announced that the small donations gift aid limit has been raised to £30.

To support even more people giving back to their local area, I am today awarding a further £3 million to communities that need it most. Some £770,000 is going to six places to boost fundraising directly to local good causes. This investment will unlock funds for Britain’s most deprived communities, improving social mobility from Bristol to the Yorkshire coast. Some £2.3 million will go to 10 more places to put community at the heart of tackling local issues, from the Onion Collective in Somerset addressing skills gaps in the county to Lincoln’s hometown football club building on cohesion in the community. This investment in communities the length and breadth of the country will help even more people take action on the issues they care about most, including helping more volunteering, giving more money directly to local causes that people feel connected with in their community and supporting even more simple neighbourly acts, which can mean so much.

The Government are also helping connect communities by tackling loneliness. We are the first country in the world to have a Minister for loneliness, and I have had interest from Governments, businesses and charities around the globe—from places such as Canada, the USA, Australia, Sweden to Japan—that want to learn from us. To help tackle loneliness across England, we have secured £20 million of new grant funding for brilliant projects that are directly connecting communities, such as the Rural Coffee Caravan in Bury St Edmunds. The Care Leavers Association is also included; it is helping to develop a digital platform to connect care leavers of all ages so they can share, learn and support one another.