Police to be given powers
The police are to be given powers to shut down protests before they cause any disruption, under government plans announced this morning. The amendment to the Public Order Bill is designed to help officers counter the “guerrilla tactics” of groups such as Just Stop Oil and Insulate Britain.
Young people are ditching God and turning to Satan, says the Daily Star. Some 5,054 respondents said they were followers of Beelzebub in the 2021 census, compared to just 1,893 in 2011. London-based Satanist Chaplain Leopold says only a minority actually worship the Prince of Darkness – they just “like rituals”.
The government unveils new “Energy Bills Discount Scheme” for businesses
The government announces the new “Energy Bills Discount Scheme” for UK businesses, charities, and the public sector from April. Scheme will provide a discount on high energy costs to give businesses certainty while limiting taxpayers’ exposure to volatile energy markets. Businesses in sectors with particularly high levels of energy use and trade intensity will receive a higher level of support.
A new energy scheme for businesses, charities, and the public sector has been confirmed on 9th January, ahead of the current scheme ending in March. The new scheme will mean all eligible UK businesses and other non-domestic energy users will receive a discount on high energy bills until 31 March 2024. This will help businesses locked into contracts signed before recent substantial falls in the wholesale price manage their costs and provide others with reassurance against the risk of prices rising again.
Gender Recognition Reform Act
Alister Jack, the Scottish Secretary has invoked government powers in order to prevent the Gender Recognition Reform Act from receiving Royal Assent. This is obviously fantastic news for the safety, dignity and privacy of women in Scotland and of course, across the whole of the UK. The bill should never have been passed in the first place.
The Scottish government refused to listen to the concerns of both womens’ groups and detransitioners (those who went through gender reassignment treatment only to later regret it) as well as to the voice of Reem Al salem, the UN special rapporteur on violence against women and girls. The Scottish Parliament had no right to pass legislation which exceeded their devolved powers and would have affected the rest of the United Kingdom.
The British Muslim Civil Society Report
The British Muslim Civil Society report, commissioned by Mercy Mission UK and supported by the APPG on British Muslims, was launched this month. The report outlines the wide-ranging contributions of Britain’s Muslim community to civil society and the vast opportunities for expanding its impact. It calls for better recognition of the key role played by faith-based organisations in civil society and for policymakers to be aware of their capabilities to better direct investment and foster stronger partnerships between Muslim civil society and government at all levels.
The report showcases success stories of a vibrant British Muslim civil society that contributes significantly. But it also highlights some of the challenges facing the community, including poverty-related disadvantages.
The 2021 Census shows that Muslims now make up 6.5% of the population of England and Wales, an increase of 1.2 million since the last census. Under-25s made up roughly half of the UK's Muslim population in 2011, while 30% of British Muslims live in the country's poorest 10% of local authority districts. The report recommends that mosques and community centres should be supported in their efforts to become major hubs for civil society and social impact. It wants support for the Muslim youth sector to address the rising needs and aspirations of a young Muslim population and greater attention to be paid to Muslim women's inclusion in civil society organisations.
Extreme poverty increases as billionaires’ fortunes balloon by £2bn-a-day
Survival of the Richest highlights how excessive wealth and extreme poverty has increased simultaneously for the first time in 25 years. It shows that the 1% are getting an ever-greater share of the world’s resources, despite already capturing around half of all new wealth during the past decade. In the two years up to December 2021, the 1% grabbed almost two-thirds (63%) of the $42 trillion (£34 trillion) of new wealth created.
The report is published as so-called ‘elites’ gather in the Swiss ski resort of Davos for the opening day of the World Economic Forum. Inequality is expected to be high on the agenda following the World Bank’s announcement last year that global progress in reducing extreme poverty has come to a halt amid what it expects to be the largest increase in global inequality since World War II.
Oxfam’s report shows that the super-rich have also seen extraordinary gains in the last two years – for every $1 of new global wealth earned by a person in the bottom 90 per cent, each billionaire gained roughly $1.7 million (£1.4 million). The combined fortune of billionaires has increased by a staggering $2.7 billion (£2 billion) a day. This comes on top of a decade of historic gains – both the number and wealth of billionaires having doubled over the last ten years.
At the same time, at least 1.7 billion workers now live in countries where inflation is outpacing wages, and over 820 million people – roughly one in ten people on Earth – are going hungry. Oxfam is calling for a systemic and wide-ranging increase in taxation of the super-rich to claw back crisis gains driven by public money and profiteering.
People around the world have been hit hard hit by rising fuel and food prices, which has led to an increase in both poverty and inequality, while driving relentless wealth and income growth for the richest. People living in extreme poverty are more affected by the increase in food prices because they spend about two-thirds of their resources on food.
Additionally, the rise in food prices has hit several low-income countries harder than the world average, for example with food price inflation in Ethiopia at 44% compared to the global average of nine per cent.
Oxfam found that 95 food and energy corporations have more than doubled their profits in 2022. They made $306 billion (£251 billion) in windfall profits and paid out 84% – $257 billion (£211 billion) – of that to rich shareholders. Oxfam’s research found that excess corporate profits have driven at least half of inflation in Australia, the US and the UK.
The gulf between the rich and the rest in the UK is also stark. Oxfam’s analysis found that the richest 1% of Britons hold more wealth than 70% of Britons, while the four richest Britons have more wealth than 20 million Britons.
The report shows that taxes on the wealthiest used to be much higher. Over the last forty years, governments across Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas have slashed the income tax rates on the richest. At the same time, they have upped taxes on goods and services, which fall disproportionately on the poorest people and exacerbate gender inequality. For example, a study carried out in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador found that hikes in VAT resulted in an increase in poverty in female-dominated households.
Some progressive governments have taken steps to increase taxation, Costa Rica increased its top rate of income tax by 10% points, from 15% to 25% and Bolivia and Argentina introduced wealth and solidarity taxes on their richest citizens, respectively.
Orlando Fraser warns: 'Great charities could go under'
Some “great charities” could collapse before the inflation crisis is over, the chair of the regulator has warned.
Orlando Fraser, chair of the Charity Commission, told an online event this that, while experts expected cost-of-living pressures to ease in the next 18 months, “tremendous damage” could be done to the sector in the meantime.
Fraser was speaking at a conference hosted by the Institute of Chartered Accountants.
In his speech, he also acknowledged that complaints against high-profile charities were sometimes made by people with an “axe to grind” and insisted that the commission would never be swayed by anyone trying to use the regulator to advance an external agenda.
Asked about the economic challenges facing trustees and charity finance advisors during the ongoing inflation crisis, Fraser said it was a “massive priority” for the commission to help charities where it could.
But he warned: “Tremendous damage can be done in this short period. Great charities could go under in the minority of cases. It is all hands-on deck at this moment.”
Fraser told finance specialists that their “mettle may well be tested in the months ahead” as charities navigated lower income and rising demand.
He praised the “hard-nosed realism” he had seen from some organisations as they adapted to meet the needs of their beneficiaries.
He also promised that the regular would always “respond proportionally to the issues that we encounter and be measured in our response. We are often made aware of accusations against, and concerns about, charities that are in the public eye. This can mean that we come under intense pressure to respond.
“Sometimes that pressure comes from people with a particular agenda or axe to grind. We respond with care and calm. We neither allow third party agendas to determine our response, nor do we dismiss information brought to us point blank.”
Funders are more flexible in how they dispense funds since pandemic, report finds
Some 60% of civil society organisations received unrestricted or core funding from grantmaker’s in 2022 compared to less than half (46%) in 2019.
This is evidence that funders are more relaxed with grant making since the pandemic, according to the new Third Sector Trends report 2022.
Pressure to provide impact assessments also fell from 55% in 2019 to 32% in 2022. Third Sector Trends has conducted its report into community organisations in England and Wales for 2022. It has surveyed the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector every three years since 2010.
Expectations that civil society organisations should be innovative dropped from 74% to 50%. This was presumably in recognition that civil society organisations were doing enough by navigating the Covid-19 pandemic, the report finds.
Some 40% of organisations even reported that grantmaker’s approached them to see if they required financial support.
Rob Williamson, chief executive of Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, said: “The pandemic sped up the modernisation of grant funding through trust-based, less restrictive models increasingly focused on core funding which is a good thing. As funders we need to continue to work and flex alongside the sector to ensure the best outcomes for our communities.”
Free online property guidance for charities published
The Ethical Property Foundation (EPF) has launched a free guide for anyone in the charity sector planning to acquire and manage property. The Weston Property manual contains 12 easy-to-read sections that range from tips on basic mistakes to avoid to a jargon buster for commercial property. It aims to enable charities to “engage with both property and property professionals with knowledge and confidence”.
The sections were written by experienced property advisers, and cover the following topics:
The jargon buster: understanding property language
Preplanning in a local context
Governance: Trustee roles and property responsibilities
Property project planning and the law
Sourcing quotes from suppliers
Planning your project delivery
Post project evaluation
Effective building management and the law
Being green: energy use and conservation
Disposal of a property Antonia Swinson, chief executive of EPF, said: “In these turbulent times, the sector needs calm, expert, easy-to-understand property advice. The foundation’s team of chartered surveyors and solicitors have delivered magnificently, and we’re looking forward to sharing their work with the sector. “We’re most grateful to Garfield Weston Foundation for their support and see this as a game changer for the sector in understanding and managing property