Combative, provocative and engaging debate on the topic of charities, chaired by Michael Buerk. With Michael Portillo, Anne McElvoy, Giles Fraser and Matthew Taylor.
Charity in the UK is big business. There are over 165,000 charities registered with the Charity Commission, and the total annual income of the sector is more than £100 billion. But what should they be allowed to spend their money on? The government has just announced that charities which receive state grants will not be allowed to spend any of that tax payers cash on political campaigning. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations has described the change as "draconian" and will amount to "gagging" them. There is a lot at stake. Charities get £13 billion pounds a year from national or local government. Figures from the National Audit Office show that that money makes up well over a half of the annual income of many well-known charities. Being a prophetic witness has always been a key aspect of what charities do. Campaigning and political activity is a vital part of that, but should it be funded by us the taxpayer, whether by direct grants or via the tax breaks that are part of charitable status. Or do we need to rethink our definition of what is and isn't a charity? If public schools can qualify for charitable status, why not campaigning groups like "Liberty"? With headlines about aggressive fund raising tactics of some organisations, the charity halo has become somewhat tarnished in recent times. But do we have an outdated "Lady Bountiful" view of what charities are for? If we want our charities to make a difference is it time to accept that they need to apply all the modern commercial tools you'd expect from such a large industry. Or, in their rush for influence and impact, have charities lost site of the personal relationships, responsibilities and trust that lie at the heart of altruism? What should charity be for? Chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Anne McElvoy, Giles Fraser and Matthew Taylor. Witnesses are Andy Benson, Debra Allcock-Tyler, Christopher Snowdon and Craig Bennett.