Enthuse - Donor Pulse Summer Report is here. Get the report (on a blue button).

Sector leaders call for fresh approach to working with civil society following Labour’s landslide win

Melanie May | 5 July 2024 | News

Keir Starmer
Official portrait, UK Parliament

With Labour winning a landslide victory in yesterday’s General Election following 14 years of Conservative rule, sector leaders have been sharing their response.

In an open letter published on the NCVO site, Chief Executive Sarah Elliot promised the sector’s support but said that charities were more than just ‘delivery partners’ and must be equal partners to the state, alongside business.

She said that the election provided a once in a lifetime opportunity to change the lives of millions of people for the better, adding:


An introduction to AI for charity professionals by Ross Angus

“We – the charity sector – are willing and waiting to work with you. From your first 100 days in government, and throughout the ten years of national renewal. We will be a partner to your cabinet in delivering Labour’s missions.


“Time and again charities have proven their resilience, expertise and skills. They’ve pivoted to help those most in need when public services fail to meet demand. But let us be clear – no food bank wants to exist. We must move from responding to crisis and plugging the gaps to ending the systemic issues that exasperate poverty, ill health and inequality.”

She also said:

“Charities have never been more needed. But we know promises have been broken by governments. We’ve also felt prevented from campaigning. We need to ensure civic space isn’t threatened. And we need refreshed energy and investment to demonstrate your commitment to us. In return, you will unlock talent, expertise and innovation that is embedded in communities.”

Reiterating the Voluntary Sector Manifesto, Elliott said:

“We don’t make these asks for ourselves. Charities don’t exist without need. We make this call not just for the millions of people who voted for you, but for the millions who didn’t. For those who are most overlooked, marginalised, and feel let down.


“In 2034 we want that generation to feel proud of the country they live in. And we want to stand alongside your government to say: together, we did it.


“You promised ten years of renewal, and you asked for our trust, support and commitment. Together, we can deliver long-lasting change.”


ACEVO CEO Jane Ide highlighted the partnership role of civil society leaders in helping Labour deliver the change promised:

“The Labour Government has been elected on a promise of change and national renewal. Civil society leaders will not only be vital partners in delivering that change, but also in making sure that the new government meets its commitment to govern in partnership with civil society.


“We look forward to working with the new administration to reset the relationship between government and civil society – not for our sake, not for theirs, but for the sake of the people and causes we are all here to serve.”

Charity Finance Group

In a statement on its site, the Charity Finance Group said it welcomed the refocus on public service that Labour has promised, and that the sector would continue to work with policymakers, as well as to hold the government to account:

“This morning, we saw a significant shift in the UK’s political landscape. CFG, along with many other charities and social purpose organisations, is looking forward to working with the new UK government to tackle the complex challenges that society is facing.


“There’s a lot of work to be done at home and abroad: reversing social and economic decline; tackling the cost-of-living crisis, poverty and inequality; putting local government and public services on a sustainable footing and promoting unity, not division. We know charities are patching larger holes in the safety net of public services; this must change. We welcome a refocus on public service.


“Charitable and social change organisations work hard every day – in partnership with the public and private sectors, across diverse groups and communities – to deliver real and positive impact for the people and communities we serve, with expertise, insight and compassion.


“In the coming days and weeks, we’ll learn more about the new government’s priorities and the details of its policies, starting with the King’s Speech on 17 July. Our sector will continue to advocate for communities everywhere, work with policymakers to find positive and practical solutions to challenges, and hold the new government to account when necessary.”


Leah Davis, Head of Policy and External Affairs at NPC, commented in a blog that the job for charities and funders now was to make the most of the opportunities created by Labour, and to work to create even more:

“Now that Labour have won an historic victory, attention will be quickly turning to how they will deliver their manifesto promises.


“This is where the hard work will really start. Where they will need to garner the support of those with the right knowledge, trusted relationships, and experience. Charities and funders have all these three attributes in a range of the areas that Labour will need to deliver on.


“The job now for charities and funders is to not only make the most of opportunities created by the commitments that Labour has made, but – through our influencing – to create even more opportunities that benefit the people we serve.”

Charities Aid Foundation

At Charities Aid Foundation, Chief Executive Neil Heslop said the government needed a fresh approach to working with civil society to ensure it thrives:

“Charities are the backbone of society, experts in serving communities and in innovating to deliver great social impact. But they have been through tough times. This new government needs a fresh approach to working in partnership with civil society –so it thrives and not just survives. A central enabler for this is a strategy to unlock greater philanthropy and social investment across the UK.”

Better Society Capital

Better Society Capital Chief Executive Stephen Muers said the sector was ready to support, and highlighted the opportunities that social investment can bring:

“The social impact investment sector is ready to support. Through providing social and affordable housing, creating cheaper and more efficient public services and funding innovative tech products which change lives every day, social investment has proven to be a trusted mechanism to help government deliver on promises.


“By creating a policy environment which fosters social investment, the new government can leverage £50 billion of additional investment to make positive impact across the country. We look forward to collaborating with Sir Keir Starmer and his new Government, helping to develop solutions for making tax-payer money go further, and making society better for all those living in the UK.”


CEO of Bond, Romilly Greenhill, called for the new Prime Minster to show strong leadership on the global stage, and for a clear roadmap to restoring the UK aid budget:

“Congratulations to Keir Starmer on his appointment as Prime Minister. We look forward to working with him to address global development and humanitarian challenges.


“We call on the new Labour government to act urgently on its manifesto commitment to restore the UK’s reputation as an ambitious, reliable and equitable development partner. This will require the Prime Minister to show strong leadership and political will at upcoming global summits to develop key partnerships to tackle pressing issues such as global conflicts, extreme poverty, the debt crisis and climate change.  We also urge the Prime Minister to bring the Treasury, the Foreign Secretary and the Minister for International Development together to set out a clear roadmap to restore the UK aid budget to 0.7% of Gross National Income, to respond to the global debt crisis and advocate for reforms to make the international financial system fairer and more equitable.”