Public at odds with Coalition Government over charity lobbying

Half believe charities should not be restricted in their lobbying, far more than any other sector

Only 15% believe charities should be restricted, compared to 55% for wealthy individuals and 62% for tobacco industry

  • Just 15% of people thought that charities should be restricted in their political lobbying. 50% said charities should face no restrictions (slide 2)
  • A third of people thought that the manufacturing industry, religious groups and trade unions should be restricted (slide 2)
  • Half of people wanted to see financial services, wealthy people and oil & gas firms restricted from lobbying. This goes up to almost two thirds of people for the tobacco industry, bottom of the list on 62% (slide 2)
  • Just 5% of people said that a charity’s campaigning activities put them off donating money
  • Earlier in 2014, our report ‘The Politics of Charities' showed that 78% of Conservative MPs said charities ‘being political’ was a negative thing. 23% of Labour MPs and 38% of Lib Dems felt the same way

Just one in seven people favour restrictions on charity lobbying, new research shows. The study also reveals that the public have little support for the kind of restrictions enforced by the Transparency of Lobbying Bill and that charities’ political campaigning puts just one in 20 of them off giving.

The nationally representative poll, carried out by research consultancy nfpSynergy, saw 1,000 people asked for their thoughts on political lobbying by a range of industries. Just 15% of people said charities should be restricted, while half of those asked thought they shouldn’t be restricted at all. When asked what would put them off giving to charity, only 5% said ‘a charity campaigning to change the law’.

A third (35%) believed trade unions should face restrictions, suggesting the Government has more justification to act against them, although this support is by no means overwhelming.

Just over half (55%) supported restrictions on lobbying by wealthy individuals, who currently enjoy complete freedom. Around half felt the same for financial services, while the number reaches almost two thirds (62%) for the tobacco industry. A third of people thought there should be restrictions on lobbying for the manufacturing industry and religious groups.

In a recent report, The Politics of Charities, nfpSynergy asked 157 MPs what they thought about charities ‘being political’. Over three quarters (78%) of Conservatives thought it was a negative thing, along with 23% of Labour MPs and 38% of Lib Dems.

nfpSynergy’s Head of Professional Audiences, Tim Harrison, said:

“Put simply, these findings show that the Coalition Government got it wrong. The public trust charities to lobby on their behalf – far more so than any other sector. The Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill simply does not reflect the fact that only 15% of people support restrictions on charity lobbying and 62% support these restrictions on tobacco companies.

This study raises an important question; why has the government wasted so much political capital and goodwill with the third sector by pushing this legislation through parliament when there is no public support for it?”

Please see the attached slides for more details.

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