Charities have been forced to change their key messages to the public during the general election because of the “chilling” effect of the controversial Lobbying Act, a group of leading UK organisations has warned. Democratic debate on some of the biggest issues in the election campaign has been stifled by the law, a group of more than 50 charities writes in a letter sent to the main party leaders on Monday night. “Voices are being lost at this crucial time, and our democracy is poorer for it,” they said. Their concerns echo those of many charities, particularly in the field of social care, which told the Guardian they were unable to raise vital concerns over, and experiences of, the impacts of current and future policies. The Lobbying Act restricts what non-governmental organisations can say in the year before a general election. Billed as a brake on corporate lobbying as well as NGOs when it was brought in, its provisions have fallen harder on the non-profit sector, leading to an independent commission and the House of Lords recommending amendments. In their letter, more than 50 UK charities called for the urgent reform of the controversial legislation, which they said was having a “chilling effect” on debates over policy ahead of Thursday’s snap election. They warned that charities were “weighed down by an unreasonable and unfair law which restricts our ability to contribute fully to a democratic society”. The charities come from across the spectrum, representing social care, health, poverty, environment, and vulnerable groups. They include household names such as the Sue Ryder nursing charity, AgeUK, Amnesty, the development charity Care, and Christian Aid.
Guardian 6th June 2017 read more »