Liberty's warning on independence

Charities that provide public services are compromising their independence and ability to campaign, according to Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty.

She made the comments last week in her keynote speech at the NCVO's first conference on campaigning. "There's a perennial tension between being independent and service provision, and charities need to be aware of it," she said. "How can you preserve your political independence when you are a service provider and lots of jobs and millions of pounds rest on a contract?"

However, Chakrabarti also emphasised that the two roles need not exclude each other.

Stewart Wallis, executive director of the New Economics Foundation and former director of livelihoods at Oxfam, agreed. "With the best will in the world, it's difficult to remain independent if you are a recipient of government funding," he said.

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