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Corrosion of Charity
From Moral Renewal to Contract Culture
By Robert Whelan
Institute of Economic Affairs
$19.95 Paper Original
For centuries the provision of welfare services to the needy was primarily the responsibility of private citizens and voluntary agencies, with the state acting as supplier of last resort, through the poor law.
The emergence in the late twentieth century of a rights-based, universal welfare state has posed a dilemma for the voluntary sector. Unable to compete with the state in terms of resources or coverage, many charities have become little more than government sub-contractors, charging fees to provide services. As a result, charities have lost some of their independence, their capacity to be innovative, and their special significance as primary institutions of civil society, providing training grounds for good citizenship.
As the dividing line between civil and political society has become increasingly blurred, many voluntary organisations have been transformed from pioneering service providers into pressure groups for ever-greater state provision. Very few charities now offer any real alternative to the statutory approach or seek to base programmes on a more positive view of human nature.
Series: Choice in Welfare Series