Anti-advocacy clause dropped and replaced by new government standards for grant making
Earlier this year, the government published a new draft clause for government grants which would have prevented the use of funds to influence government or parliament.
In April, the government paused the implementation of the clause and last week it was announced that it is being dropped entirely.
Locality welcome that the government have changed course on a policy which would have threatened the ability of organisations to use the learning and expertise from their work to influence and shape public policy. In its place the Cabinet Office have instead introduced new grant making standards which offer important guidance on eligible expenditure. However there remain some areas of the new guidance in need of further clarification:
- The ‘robust grant agreement’ standard, offers welcome clarity that permitted activity within the scope of the grant includes providing evidence based policy recommendations and input into policy consultations and policy debate. However, it still allows for the prohibition of in-house lobbying which attempts to influence “legislative or regulatory action” – to be determined by the department responsible. It does, however, state that this ban on in-house lobbying will not override the previous permitted activity on policy influencing.
- The standards include the expectation that “grant funding payment models will reflect need and avoid paying significant portions of funding up-front”, which undermines the importance of upfront payment to small and medium sized organisations.
- The inclusion of an annual review of all government department grants is also concerning, as it potentially signals a rejection of longer term grant cycles, in conflict with the government’s commitment to multi-year funding through the Compact. This erosion of longer-term funding cycles would be disastrous for both achieving good outcomes as well as organisational stability.
Although we welcome that the government have heeded concerns across the sector on the anti-advocacy clause, there is a need to continue to work with government to influence how these standards are implemented in practice, so as to ensure that they are workable for grant-makers and recipients.