The UK Election and How it Could Affect UK Volunteer Programs and Public Services

As the UK heads to the voting polls on July 4th, the outcomes will have a profound impact on charities, nonprofits, and volunteer programs based in the UK. With each party securing regional seats, new policies and commitments will shape the levels of funding for public services, community initiatives, events, and the overall well-being of millions of individuals.

On 4th July the UK is going to the voting polls and the results will have a significant impact on UK based charities, nonprofits and volunteering programs.

As each party secures regional seats, they will introduce policies and commitments that directly impact public service funding, community initiatives, events, and the overall well-being of countless individuals.

In this article, we extract key points from the major parties' manifestos, shedding light on potential implications for volunteer programs with lasting consequences.

Plans for public services

Perhaps one the more concerning observations from the main parties’ manifestos is the lack of clarity on the funding of public services. While each has addressed the need to invest in services in broad strokes, no party has committed to outlining spending plans on individual services.

The Conservative Party did commit to increase health spending above inflation each year but their comments are short on detail. It’s estimated that the difference between spending on public services could be anything between $1 billion to 20 times through different plausible paths of spending. 

Social Care was a noticeable absentee in all parties' manifestos. No party has outlined any spending commitments for social care and its likely councils and local governments will have to seek support from surrounding service providers or find more collaborative approaches to supporting communities.

The Conservatives’ plans for social care appear to be the most scaled back of all the manifestos, while in contrast the Liberal Democrats have made some wide-ranging proposals. Labour sits somewhere in the middle with mentions of national care reform but no timescales or detail. 

Access to public funded care is vital and although talk of ‘repairing the broken NHS’ is mentioned by all opposing parties - no-one is sticking their neck out and making measurable commitments.

Impact on volunteer programs

There is much talked about the added investment needed in the NHS to reduce waiting list times, pay a fair wage for nurses and improve the infrastructure. Securing funding will be essential, and if each party intends to lower taxes for lower-income earners, there could be a shortfall in grants and funding for other services backed by charities.

It is crucial for charities, nonprofits, and volunteer programs to operate in a streamlined and efficient manner. Fundraising should be a top priority for all charities in the coming years, as investing in volunteers can open doors to increased funding.

Engaged volunteers are more inclined to contribute both their time and financial support to a cause, making it essential for organisations to nurture and empower their volunteer base.

Ending Austerity

From 2009 until 2022, Interest rates were at record lows in the UK. These rates hardly exceeded 1% for 12 years until recently where we’ve seen them almost reach the 6% highs of the early 2000’s. 

Rising interest rates coupled with increased costs on food and fuel has put a lot of pressure on families and in their hour of need they have turned to public services for assistance. 

The sustainability of services commonly backed by charities, grants, and volunteer programs relies on the willingness of individuals to donate their time. However, when individuals must prioritize paid work over volunteering to meet financial obligations, the pressure on these services to deliver their intended outcomes intensifies.

Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Reform party have all talked at length about ‘ending austerity’, reducing taxes and easing the pressures off families. While this couple make volunteering more accessible for many more people it could come at the cost of cuts to funding and grants that keep these charities afloat. 

Cuts on the cards

Across all parties budgets are tight if NHS, education and childcare commitments get increases, the knock on effect for other public services face the reality of cuts - most are already in a perilous position.

Across all parties budgets are tight if NHS, education and childcare commitments get increases, the knock on effect for other public services face the reality of cuts - most are already in a perilous position.


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Party Summaries 

Here’s a summary of each party's position on the charity sector and volunteering in general.

Conservative Party

The current majority party is looking to continue its mandate on austerity measures. Fiscal responsibility measures may make securing funding more challenging.

It’s been reported that 70% of Tory voters are supportive of charities’ political activity, clearly their voters are behind charities wanting to have their voices heard. However, the reaction to ‘compulsory national service volunteering’ hasn’t been well received.

“If it’s compulsory then it’s not volunteering” - Stephen NAME, Green Party

Their plans to raise funds by reducing the number of NHS managers has raised eyebrows. With Thea Stein from Nuffield Trust describing the plans as “Ill thought through and un-strategic”.

Funding and Grants - The focus on austerity measures could result in limited increases in government funding and grants for charities. It’s going to get competitive out there for charities all vying for the same funding.

Regulation and Bureaucracy - Implementation of policies aimed at reducing regulatory burdens on charities could potentially make it easier to operate but also reduce oversight.

Corporate Partnerships - May encourage partnerships between charities and private sector companies, emphasising self- sustainability.


Labour Party

A Labour government would bring what they call ‘a new focus and appreciation for charities’ but don’t expect this to happen at speed. While the Labour is saying all the right things around a focus on resetting the relationship between the charity sector and government this isn’t being backed up by clear spending commitments for services and the civil society.

“I want to be your champion in government, to take your incredibly rich evidence and experience to make better policy. Policy designed to improve the lives of people up and down the country, rather than policy designed to punish and restrict” - Shadow Secretary for DCMS, Thangam Debbonaire

Funding and Grants -  Labour are expected to increase funding and support for charities, especially those addressing social inequalities and public services.

Social Welfare Programs - A Labour victory could lead to more comprehensive social welfare programs, indirectly reducing the demand on charities providing essential services.

Regulation - Might introduce more stringent regulations to ensure transparency and accountability in the charity sector.


Liberal Democrats

The headline for the Liberal Democrat’s manifesto is about building a fair, free and open society in which the nation would seek to balance the fundamental values, equality and community and in which no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance and conformity.

This appears to align very closely with the needs and expectations of the public services and charities sector - however, much like the other parties, they are short on detail and solid promises of reform.

Increased transparency and accountability to how money is spent through local authorities is likely to be well received but pressure on local governments to prove impact will increase.

Funding and Grants -  The Liberal Democrats are likely to support increased funding for charities, with a focus on those working in education, health, and the environment.

Innovation and Impact - They are likely to prioritise innovation in the charity sector, encouraging new methods and technologies to maximise impact.

Collaboration - An emphasis on collaboration between government, charities, and communities is a priority to address societal challenges.


Scottish National Party (SNP)

The SNP want to end '14 years of austerity', reversing the cuts to public services that have put real pressure on the money available for the NHS and Schools.

Devolved Powers - For charities operating in Scotland, SNP policies may focus on using devolved powers to increase funding and support for Scottish charities.

“We will stand firmly against the Westminster consensus on continued cuts and demand increased investment in our vital public services” - SNP

Independence Implications - Long-term SNP goals for independence could lead to changes in funding structures and regulatory environments for charities.


Green Party

The Green Party are looking to push for investment of £20bn to help fund free personal care and to increase the pay rates for the care workforce.

"We live in one of the richest countries on the planet, yet nurses are using food banks, our children’s schools are crumbling, a roof over our heads is all too often unaffordable, and hospital and dentist appointments are like gold dust" - Carla Denyer & Adrian Ramsay, Green Party, co-leaders

The Green Party has committed to reducing the administrative burden on GPs, enabling them to have more face time with patients. Many charities that operate in the medical or patient care sector will know staffing is key to providing optimal care. 

Environmental Charities - Significant increase in support and funding for charities focused on environmental issues and sustainability.

Social Justice - Prioritise funding for charities addressing social justice, equality, and local community initiatives.

Regulation and Support - Likely to implement policies ensuring high standards of transparency and accountability while providing robust support structures for charities.


Each party's approach to taxation, public spending, and social policies will directly and indirectly influence the financial health, regulatory environment, and operational scope of charities across the UK.

Charities may need to adapt to changes in government priorities, funding availability, and regulatory requirements depending on the election outcome.

About Rosterfy

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