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Government and the charitable sector

02 June 2010


From Mr Ian Chisnall

Sir, — Bob Holman (Comment, 21 May) opens up an interesting and pertinent debate regarding the delivery of social care and other services by charities. Sadly, the item does not clarify what is meant by “small”, “independent”, and “local”, the terms that make up the headline.

Instead, he refers to large charities by the analysis used by the Charity Commission (greater than £500,000 turnover), which includes a great many charities, including The Message Trust, which the author applauds (although he refers to it as a church, which I do not think is correct). He also refers to the Frontier Youth Trust, which is not a small charity in many senses, and neither of these trusts is limited in its activity to one local community.

Independence can, of course, be compromised by the funding supplied by central or local government, but so, too, by other donors who make their donations conditional on activities that they favour (some charities depend on a small number of high-net-worth donors for their regular income).

I am a board member of several charities, including one large one (turnover above £5 million), which depends extensively on government funding, but I would suggest that all of them are independent in different ways, and that all of them are locally earthed (although one of the smaller ones covers four county areas).

Some of the matters raised, such as the change of government and the recession, make these matters vital; but we need clarity over the issues that are being raised. Let us hope that Iain Duncan Smith is, as Bob Holman puts it, the “right man for the job”; but even this comment, early on in a new Parliament, could be construed as lacking the in­dependence that the author wishes to see among the charitable sector.

85 Hollingbury Rise

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