Clause 5

Part of National Insurance Contributions Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 7th December 2010.

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Photo of Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Shadow Minister (Treasury) 4:30 pm, 7th December 2010

Indeed, and it would be quite useful if the Minister would elaborate on the specific wording of clause 5(6), because there are certain definitions of “new business” that are allowed to qualify for the national insurance holiday. To what extent are charities able to be defined within that particular categorisation?  I am told that there are some 140,000 charities in the UK. Of course, existing enterprises and endeavours would not qualify for the national insurance holiday: it would be new start-ups. I tried to find out how many new charities might start up in our constituencies, because there are not many detailed records to hand. I was not able to find particular figures in the Library, but I was able to discover that, for instance, some 13,000 staff are employed by charities in Wales —6,300 in full-time employment and 6,500 in part-time employment.

We have some 140,000 charities in the UK as a whole, and I am told that some 5,000 new charities start up each year, so something in the order of 2 or 3% of the total quantum of charitable institutions are new start-ups, which could mean that there are several thousand charities nationwide that might feel that they could benefit from the national insurance holiday arrangement, but are not evidently able to do so from the provisions as set out in the Bill.

Charities have, as I have said, a clear social benefit, as we can all obviously understand, but there is an economic benefit to their work as well. Many young people will find that the first step on the career ladder, either through work experience, training or some other activity, might be through a charitable gateway. We should be encouraging charities to start up, and it would be wise to frame the legislation in such a way that would benefit the voluntary and charitable sectors. It is a shame, as my hon. Friend has said, that charities, which are already suffering the rather sinister ironies of the Prime Minister’s big society, are having their funding slashed by local authorities up and down the land and, unless I am mistaken in my interpretation, probably will not be included much in the scope of the Bill.