Resist this Gagging of vol orgs

The announcement today by Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP of the Cabinet Office that organisations receiving Government funds will not be allowed to use that money to attempt to influence Government, Parliament or any political party is shockingly repressive, terrible governance.

  • It contradicts the key principle of the Compact, signed under the Coalition Government by David Cameron, that receiving Government money should not affect their influencing work. Nick Hurd MP has been very eloquent supporting that principle: how is he feeling today?
  • It enshrines “Whitehall knows best” arrogance. We have nothing to learn from the organisations working with the grass roots! Whatever they know about real people’s needs and how policy actually works out on the ground, we don’t want to hear it!
  • Those funded to coordinate rural organisations? We don’t want to hear from them about the pressures and needs of rural areas – keep quiet Those funded to offer advice services to the disabled or to needy citizens? We don’t want to hear about their knowledge of what it happening to people day by day – keep quiet! Those funded to assist victims of crime? We don’t want to hear about how the criminal justice system is experienced by victims or how it might be improved – keep quiet! Eduating prisoners? We don’t know much about what it’s like being a prisoner trying to learn, but we certainly don’t want to hear anything about that from you – keep quiet.       
  • This is monstrous, and cannot represent the views of all Ministers. If you pay a grant to an independent organisation, you do not buy the right of that organisation to bear witness to what it is learning in its work for you, and give voice to people who otherwise have none.
  • Breaking news: Governments, Parliaments and political parties do have quite a lot to learn! 
  • THE MAN IN WHITEHALL DOES NOT KNOW BEST. This trashing of the Compact, or free speech and good governance must be resisted strongly.

One thought on “Resist this Gagging of vol orgs

  1. Spot on, Andrew. It seems as if all that work we and others did in developing the Compact has just been torn up. As Richard Fries, former chief charity commissioner, said, it is not just the right of charities to seek to influence policy on behalf of their beneficiaries, but the duty. If one of a charity’s objects is to alleviate the poverty experienced by their client group and if work they are undertaking with the help of a government grant, results in evidence that government policies are increasing poverty for that group, then, as a charity, they have a duty to highlight this. So the government is introducing a policy which directly contradicts charity good practice and is contrary, if not,to charity law, then to the spirit of charity law. How are NCVO, ACEVO and others responding to this? Richard


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