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News digest 6/5/16: Treasury stockpiles ahead of Brexit vote

06 May 2016 by Henry Ker

Treasury stockpiles ahead of Brexit vote - read more

The latest governance stories in the news

Treasury stockpiles ahead of Brexit vote

The government has added an extra £4.8 billion to the Treasury. This addition to the UK’s international holdings comes as it prepares for any currency volatility that may result from a decision for the UK to leave the EU.

The total reserves held by the government is now 16% more than last year − approximately £100 billion − with the assets comprising gold, foreign currency and funds with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The decision follows analysts’ expectations that the value of the Pound will fall should the UK vote to leave the EU. The value of the Pound is likely to fall to around $1.20, compared to around $1.45 currently.


Anti-advocacy proposal a 'backwards step’

The anti-advocacy clause proposed by the government threatens to turn charities into ‘silent service-providing machines’, according to Caron Bradshaw, Chief Executive of Charity Finance Group.

Bradshaw and two other leading figures in the charity sector, Kunle Olulode, Director of Voice4Change England and Paul Roberts, Chief Executive of LGBT Consortium, wrote a letter to Cabinet Office minister, Matt Hancock, to express their concerns. They stated the government’s proposal to stop charities that receive grants government from lobbying in Parliament, would adversely affect disadvantaged groups.

Bradshaw made a statement to accompany the letter: ‘We are not just silent service-providing machines. Charities have a duty to speak up for their beneficiaries and make sure that their needs are being considered by government. It was for this reason that governments of all stripes respected the Compact between government and the voluntary sector.’


Concern Worldwide charges donors 100 times amount agreed

The charity Concern Worldwide, which works to tackle poverty in some of the world’s poorest countries, inadvertently charged donors up to 100 times the amount they had agreed.

The mistake seems to have hit the bank accounts of 25,000 regular donors. The charity swiftly apologised and is working to reimburse all those affected.

The charity issued a statement, saying: ‘Due to an administrative error, we took the wrong amount of direct debit donations from some of our supporters in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. We are extremely sorry that this has happened and we apologise profusely to all supporters who have been affected by this error. We are working around the clock to contact all affected supporters, to explain the situation, to apologise and to explain what they can expect to happen next.’


Sir Philip Green calls on MP to resign

Sir Philip Green, former owner of BHS, has called for MP Frank Field to resign. Mr Field is Chairman of the Work and Pensions Committee; the committee which is investigating the cause for the collapse of BHS.

Sir Philip said Mr Field should stand down ‘as he is clearly prejudiced’ following Mr Field’s remarks that Sir Philip's knighthood should be removed if he did not repay £571 million to BHS's pension fund.

Sir Philip has agreed to appear before both the Work and Pensions Committee and the Business Innovation and Skills Committee to answer questions about the collapse. However, he has written to the two committees calling for an end to his ‘trial by media’.

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