Charities have issued fresh warnings that the government’s behaviour is discouraging charities from speaking out and having a genuinely “chilling effect” on campaigning.
The warnings come as the Sheila McKechnie Foundation published the findings of its latest research, The Chilling Reality: How the Lobbying Act is affecting charity and voluntary sector campaigning in the UK. In it, 51 per cent of survey respondents said that the Lobbying Act had affected their ability to deliver their mission.
This research builds on an earlier report by the Sheila McKechnie Foundation about the Lobbying Act, which in 2017 found that 90 per cent of respondents felt the legitimacy of campaigning was under threat, with the Lobbying Act cited as one of the main problems.
Some 92 campaigners took part in the research to investigate the impact of the act in more detail, through an online survey, in-depth interviews and round tables.
It found that charities were less likely to be involved in political debate. One third of respondents said that there had been a negative effect on building coalitions of charities and 36 per cent have changed their language or tone of campaigns.
Charities also reported that complying with the Lobbying Act wastes time and money, slows down decision making and stops some activity all together.