Thursday 12 April 2012
On the road to Wigan Pier (no dodgy charities found).
A good day in Wigan ( though not at the Pier; which does exist and I have visited: btw refers to Orwell novel!).
I was meeting Lord Peter Smith, Leader of the Council , and chair of the GM councils group, and his team to talk about how to follow up on the Youth Unemployment Commission. We discussed potential for action both in Wigan and Greater Manchester and possibilities on youth bonds. Its exciting to be able to work with a council that wants a partnership approach across the 3 sectors.
I know Wigan well from my days doing pay negotiations for local government. The Chair of the Employers, Cllr Baldwin was a councillor here and I'd be a regular visitor. Wigan town centre is charmingly untouched by nasty 60s redevelopment. And following our meeting Lord Smith took me and my 2 brains Policy Director Ralph off to see their one stop shop jobs and skills centre- a real model for how to help the unemployed back into work by working on the person and the reasons they can't get into work; often many and varied. A good Council.
And just time to grab fish and chips from Roy's chippie just opposite the Station to eat on way back to London and the gathering media storm on the charity tax cap.
Although it was good to watch the statements from the PM in Indonesia he still muddied the waters by talking about dodgy charities , this time european ones. And in the morning press we see HMT have listed ways in which they believe charities and philanthropists are dodging tax. I even managed a phone in programme for the BBC on my mobile on the train!
I have written formally to the Charity Commission to ask them to investigate. This story has now developed in a way that may undermine the trust and confidence of the public in charities generally. It is the job of the regulator to stamp out abuse. They must now act to investigate these claims. It is increasingly untenable for them to say nothing and I await a response from them to my request.