Who Cares?
How State Funding & Political Activism Change Charity

By Nick Seddon
April 2007
Distributed By Coronet Books
ISBN: 9781903386569      
200 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
$23.50 Paper Original

Charities lie at the heart of a vibrant civil society.  They have for a long time been distinguished from the public sector  on the one hand and the commercial sector on the other, and their independence from both is vital to their success. 

They enjoy special rights and privileges, benefiting from tax advantages as well as the moral authority associated with charitable status.  However, the legitimacy of this status is under threat.  In the past few decades, charities have drawn an increasing proportion of their income from local and central government grants and contracts. 

As a whole, the sector gets nearly half of its income from statutory sources, and some charities receive nearly all of their funding in this way.  This in turn has led all political parties to factor them into their policy agendas more than ever before.  The state now sets up its own ‘charities,’ which provide statutory services, paid for by government, whilst still competing with genuine charities for funds and creating confusion about what a charity is. 

But is it possible to be independent when delivering services under contract for a provider – or does he who pays the piper pick the tune?  What if charities are coming to resemble the statutory departments on which they depend for money?  As we witness the emergence of multi-million-pound bureaucracies with armies of paid workers, some of which now engage in highly contentious political activism, we have to find ways of preserving the many small, local independent organizations which play a vital role in creating inclusive communities, and which increasingly are struggling to survive.

Political Science

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