It is always the case that Charities have a fine line to tread when they have to speak out about the cause they represent. Someone will brand any communication they make as “political”.
This was the case in the recent case of Oxfam who have been involved in a campaign to highlight poverty and its causes in the UK.
“Oxfam’s report, “ The Perfect Storm,” documents how the Government’s deficit reduction strategy, which has targeted £99 billion of budget cuts against just £29 billion of tax increases each year by the end of this parliament, is disproportionately impacting those on the lowest incomes. It describes a ‘perfect storm’ of factors – from increasing unemployment and lack of decent jobs, to rising living costs and falling incomes and the proposed deep cuts to welfare and public services – that are buffeting the UK’s most vulnerable citizens, both those in and out of work.”
Conor Burns MP sent a letter to the Times complaining that Oxfam was too political. The Charity Commission in England has directed that an investigation be started to ascertain if the Oxfam charity is breaking any rules. Sixty –Nine Charities in England and Wales have signed a letter sent to the Times refuting the charge that they are “too political”. The BBC quotes that letter to the Times.
“The letter cites a number of reasons for food banks’ prevalence including “low incomes, rising living costs, welfare cuts, and problems with the benefit sanctions system that stops vital welfare payments going to people who are struggling to make ends meet”.
How have the Voluntary and Charity groups in Scotland reacted to this apparent attempt by an MP from the Government to stifle their campaigns, especially in the run–up to a Westminster UK Election?
This very informative and enlightening blog post at the Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations / does not hold back in its criticism .
“Since then we have had the regressive UK Lobbying and Third Party Campaigning Bill enacted. The new laws make it much more difficult to raise issues in the run up to elections. I have also had senior UK ministers complain to me about how lenient Scotland’s charity regulation is to vocal charities”
Charities and their volunteers hear firsthand what is happening to folk in everyday life. Politicians may not like what they are told by these Charities, or indeed may have a big disagreement, but stifling bad news and reports that go against the good news policy of Governments, is never a good thing.