Thursday, April 18, 2024
HomeCulture WarIn the name of charity, taxpayer-funded treachery

In the name of charity, taxpayer-funded treachery


TCW’s Campbell Campbell-Jack has already exposed and discredited Oxfam’s ‘Inclusive Language Guide’ as a dangerous and destructive attack on the civilised norms which underpin our society. A best-rated comment on TCW emphatically states, ‘Just one more charity to which I will no longer donate.’ 

Sorry, guys – you’re already paying and will continue to pay for this treachery whether you like it or not. Everyone in the UK who pays tax – PAYE, VAT, buys a house, or petrol or whatever – is contributing to Oxfam’s and many, many other charities’ funding, right down to small outfits such as Sistah Space, the total income of which includes £52,346 from two government contracts. 

In 2018-19, government and other public authorities contributed 43 per cent of Oxfam GB’s total revenue. (Following reports of safeguarding allegations in Haiti, and later in the DCR, it was required to withdraw from bidding for government money, but since 2021 this ban has been revoked.) 

New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) examined figures released by the National Audit Office, and estimated that in 2020, government spending on charities potentially reached £2.9billion.

This is a huge amount of taxpayers’ money, and calls into question the status of the voluntary sector as a whole. Charity is defined as the ‘voluntary’ giving of help, typically in the form of money, to those in need. In addition, those who work on behalf of charities might be expected to give of their time and efforts free of charge. Judging from media comments at the moment, a great proportion of taxpayers do not see themselves as willing volunteers. 

Since the advent of the Blair government, it has been evident that a fundamental shift has taken place within the voluntary sector. Authentic charities were co-opted either to do the work of the state, or to extend the work of the state into new spheres. Many small charities went under, and others turned into multi-million-pound state-funded businesses. Addiction and drug charities were a prime example of this transformation, faith-based abstinence-based rehabs falling by the wayside as the big housing and methadone delivery ‘charities’ contracted to reach government tick-box targets expanded out of all recognition. 

Any organisation can apply for government funding to start a charity once the governing document and trustees are in place, and they have registered with the Charities Commission. Charities also receive tax relief on most of their income and gains, as long as this is used for ‘charitable’ purposes. It is notable that despite the 169,029 registered charities in England and Wales (as of the end of 2020/21) the commission undertakes and completes very few statutory inquiries – 45 in the year to March 2022, and 64 in 2020/21. 

Pinpointing exactly how much the government spends on grants to charities is hampered by the wide range of departments involved in grant administration. And, as with Sistah Space, the Government can award contracts to charities, which further boost their funding.

A report published in 2015 by the Centre for Policy Studies claimed that the UK’s biggest charities are funded to such an extent by the taxpayer that they are effectively acting as part of government. The scale of state subsidy is often hidden, but may account for up to half their income. Some, such as Mencap and Action for Children, were receiving around 90 per cent of their income from the public sector. Indeed, some that are registered as charities are really state-run quangos in disguise, for example the Arts Council and the British Council. The salaries of CEOs have risen to five figures, and many spend a high proportion of income to fund pension schemes. 

This follows the 2006 Centre for Policy Studies report, ‘Charity: The Spectre of Over-regulation and State Dependency’, which recommended much greater transparency in the accounting practices of the big charities, while the Charities Commission should be accountable to Parliament and act only as a regulator. Richard Smith, co-author of this report, stated clearly that ‘the public must recapture how charities behave’, and that ‘the direct financial link between the state and a charity should be broken’. 

He emphasised that ‘the creative spirit that so enriches our civic society must be admired and treasured. There will always be a need for charity, so unless we want to hand over all responsibility to the state, we must defend our charities from the heavy-handed embrace of Government’.

In December 2022, a group of MPs expressed their disquiet at the government funding extended to some of these charities. However their concerns were limited to those organisations ‘causing division and toxicity’. A report by the Conservative Way Forward group, Defunding Politically Motivated Campaigns, claims to have identified nearly £880million in public spending which backs charities opposed to official policy on issues including migration, trans rights and the ‘climate crisis’. They have demanded action, saying that public funding of these projects should be stopped immediately. 

The Taxpayers’ Alliance has since revealed that the LGBT+ rights charity Stonewall continues to receive an annual £1,221,222 from public bodies. 

It is surely time for the entire ‘charitable’ sector to be re-assessed, with those doing government business stripped of their charitable status and significant tax advantages and for charity, ideally, to be returned to its original status as an activity supported by voluntary effort and contribution. Only in this way, can individuals freely choose which, if any, charities they wish to support. There should of course be a concomitant reduction in our taxation, allowing people to judge their own philanthropy. Without such change, the voluntary sector will remain another example of the profligate, even hidden, indulgence of our recklessly spendthrift government. 

Above all, to continue to refer to all these organisations in their present form as ‘charities’ is just another cynical corruption of the English language, much like Oxfam’s notorious new language guide.

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Janice Davis
Janice Davis
Janice Davis is a grandmother and former girls’ grammar school teacher

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