Most MPs embrace business support for political parties, but say such backing from charities should remain banned

  • Labour MPs least keen on businesses supporting political parties, being completely split down the middle on the issue
  • Labour MPs keenest on charities supporting political parties, although still broadly against it
  • “The government review of red tape should see a re-analysis of the restrictions placed on charities, so they can join businesses in advancing their agendas in the way they - with trustees’ and supporters’ backing - see fit,” says nfpSynergy’s Saxton

Most MPs believe that businesses should be able to support political parties but that the ban on charities so-doing should remain in place, according to new data out today.

Whilst (slides 2 & 3) 63% of all MPs (87% Conservative; 36% Labour; 53% Lib Dems) - agree that “businesses should be able to support a political party” (37% of Labour and 23% of Lib Dems disagreeing with this), a corresponding (slides 4 & 5 ), 69% of all MPs (66% Conservative; 68% Labour; 77% Lib Dems) disagree with the statement that “charities should be able to support a political party” (15% of Labour, 8% of Conservatives and no Lib Dems agreeing with this).

Leading not-for-profit sector research consultancy nfpSynergy’s Charity Parliamentary Monitor surveyed a representative sample of 150 MPs (May/June 2010), asking them whether they thought businesses and charities should be able to support a political party; and what they thought the current position of the law was on this issue.

Whilst almost all (99%, slide 2) of MPs surveyed believe - correctly - that “businesses can (legally) support a political party”, only 85% (slide 4) of MPs believe – correctly - that the law also doesn’t allow such support from charities. Interestingly, 6% of MPs think – incorrectly - that “charities can (legally) support a political party”, 9% not knowing whether or not they can.

nfpSynergy Driver of Ideas, Joe Saxton commented:

“Given their core funding sources, it is perhaps not entirely surprising that the Conservatives are so unequivocally in favour of allowing business support for political parties, in line with current legislation - with the Lib Dems broadly in favour and Labour so completely split on the issue.

However, the seemingly widespread desire amongst MPs for the retention of the current ban on charities likewise backing a political party and its policies, is surely both out-of-date and illogical. Like businesses, charities operate within society and thus should rightly seek to influence the political environment. Like businesses, why shouldn’t they also be allowed, by law, to express their opinions on relevant party policy, and even provide transparent financial backing.

With charities increasingly expected to deliver government services and compete with businesses to so-do, the government review of red tape should see a re-analysis of the restrictions placed on charities, so they can join businesses in advancing their agendas in the way they - with their trustees’ and supporters’ backing - see fit.”

-end-

 

MEDIA COMMENT: To interview nfpSynergy’s Joe Saxton about these findings, please contact him direct on 07976 329 212 or joe.saxton@nfpsynergy.net; or, alternatively, contact Adrian Gillan (0774 086 7215; E: adrian@gillanmedia.com) for further assistance.

Note to editors:

nfpSynergy (www.nfpsynergy.net) is the UK’s only research consultancy dedicated to the charity sector and not-for-profit issues. It provides ideas, insights and information to help voluntary and community organisations thrive in an ever-changing world. Regularly harvesting the social and charity-related views of public and parliament, media and business - not to mention not for profit organisations themselves - nfpSynergy has a vast and ever-growing knowledge pool from which to extract and deliver insights.

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Survey of MPs May-June 2010

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