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Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Third Sector just the State in disguise?

Is the 'Third Sector' just the State in disguise? Well, it is if it's funded by the central State. One of the roles of charities and voluntary sector organisations is advocacy and lobbying, of using their name and publicity to highlight the plight of their target subjects. When they are wholly funded by us, the public, their size and presence will generally reflect popular priorities. We will choose to give a few quid to a Prostate Cancer charity but refrain from doing so to the Ingrowing Toenails Association.

When the State distorts this 'market' by directing tax money at favoured groups at the same time as trying to pretend that the voices of this State-funded Third Sector are authentic, then we cease to trust the Third Sector as a whole. When the Ingrowing Toenail Association mounts a poster campaign that the Prostate Cancer charity can't afford because the State has decided to grant £250k to toenails but nothing to Prostate glands the end result harms everyone.

The Devil's Kitchen is in the process of bringing back on line, and both the Capitalists and Dan Hannan blogged on this yesterday. I add my small voice to theirs.

This is even more pernicious when the State is distorting the message of the Third Sector with the sole purpose of funding a covert publicity campaign for its lunatic social engineering programme. Please take just a moment to open this .pdf from the Department of Health detailing their current grant funding.
  • £60,000 to Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK (A.B.H) to advise pilgrims to Mecca of health issues
  • £17,342 to Central African Womens (sic) Support Group (CAWSG) to teach African women the benefits of walking
  • £250,000 to the Child Migrants Trust for family tracing (uhm, many child migrants were actually sent/smuggled here by those familes...)
  • £46,652 to the Coalition for the Removal Of Pimping (CROP) to befriend tarts
  • £45,000 to the Pyramid Theatre Company for a health play
  • £40,000 to Southall Black Sisters Trust (SBST) for domestic violence against black women
  • £40,000 to Voice UK for 'equal access to justice'
  • £40,000 to Weight Concern
  • £38,030 to Women's Therapy Centre (WTC) for domestic violence project
And many, many more. This is just the DH; each government department has its own grant programme. Plus a central £40m bailout. Plus all charities have generous tax breaks.

Artificially subsidising charities that would be unlikely to survive without State funding just because they echo a favourable political message robs real charities of income. Using State funds to 'buy' the political loyalty of clients of the central State robs democratic transparency from the political process.

The Terrence Higgins Trust has taken £220,000 from the DH. I have previously given quite generously to this charity; it used to do an excellent job of de-stigmatising HIV and campaigning for sufferers. Of late I have heard very little from them. I don't think I shall be donating to them again.

I've just looked at the THT's accounts. Only £3.23m of their 2007/2008 income was from voluntary donations, fund raising or commercial activities. The remaining £12.6m was from local / central government grants(>£10m), lottery funding etc. I regard lottery funding as tax funding. Wouldn't it be more honest of THT to announce itself as "80% Tax Funded"?


manc_ill_kid said...

I think there's a little bit of a case for state funding of charities where there are PR imbalances like that between breast cancer and prostate cancer.

They kill about equal number of women and men respectively, but everyone loves boobs, so breast cancer gets the money, the celeb PR and the NHS screening program.

A better solution perhaps would be if breast and prostate cancer research were liabilities of the NHS and not charities at all. And what voluntary charities exist for these problems themselves subsidied the NHS rather than the other way round.

Newmania said...

Yes R and given the intention of Cameron to use charities for welfare we might think abuit harder about what he is getting at .Not what many Conservatives think I guess

Alfred the Ordinary said...

OK old hat now, but thanks for the information. I found the list very interesting.

For instance The Child Migrants Trust receives £250,000 for Family tracing & renunion service and post reunion support. A worthwhile cause, no doubt, but £1/4M from the taxpayer through the NHS? I'm not convinced that that is a good use of either tax payer funds nor of NHS funds, but then I do not know the good work that is done by this particular charity.

Why Cooltan Arts gets £64,000 for The Largactyl Shuffle, from the NHS, or what the benefit is, I have little idea, but do click on the link for some interesting pictures.

Summary - The General Scheme of Grants to Voluntary Organisations 2008-09, shows 366 Voluntary Organisations receiving £17,604,642 in grants.(My calculations)