Monday, 7 February 2011

Time for action

Well. Dame Elizabeth, a vision in pink on BBC breakfast show telling Wei what's going wrong. A great interview on "Today". She highlights the problem that cuts are making for the mission to drive up volunteering.

And last week, the Cabinet Office announce that they are to end strategic grants over four years. Some of the biggest grants go to volunteering England (at 1.6.) and CSV at 1.1m. This is on top of the slashing of the grants to the youth charity V.

But what I find extraordinary is that the Cabinet Office say this is to cut our dependence on handouts. This line was repeated this morning. We are told we must stand on our own two feet.

What they appear to miss is that these strategic grants are made as a transaction in return for services. Its not a handout. It's about supporting our capacity building of the sector, about providing the Cabinet office with advice on what is happening in the sector and how to best target programmes.

But what maybe sinister is that this implies an agenda to cut back the Welfare State. Spend less on core care services and rely on charitable donations.

The Institute of Economic Affairs give the game way today when they say we should cut money to charities. They say we are over dependent on the State for funding. But they miss the point that this is money for contracts to deliver services; for children and young people, or the elderly, the disabled or the jobless. Services that were once provided by the State. And which the Government with another voice say we should expand. Are they seriously suggesting we provide this contractual work for free? Are they saying when Government contract for services from the private sector under the work programme they should be paid and we do it for free?

It is insulting to describe the money that goes to charity from the State as a handout.

I'm on my way to the BBC to make exactly that point. And then for Channel 4 News. Good job I had a relaxing weekend in Suffolk, staying near glorious Southwold with an old friend from Lambeth, Sharon Atkins. Marvellous cook, she is onto her second book on Caribbean cooking. Fine wine, fine food and gossip. It's what makes for a magnificent weekend. All CEOs need it. And in the battles ahead we need to be strengthened in purpose, resolute and in great health....

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