Little at Large: Prize-winning regulator on a roll as it bags trip to Dubai

The Charity Commission is used to getting it in the neck from all and sundry for being too soft, too hard, too slow or too grey.

But the regulator was basking in the glow of unaccustomed plaudits last week after taking overall award for best public sector idea at the Idea of the Year Competition 2008. Its Stop, Think, Write initiative is intended to improve the quality of communication from its charity services division (Third Sector Online, 17 November).

Clearly on a roll, the commission also waltzed off with the raffle prize of two free tickets to Dubai. I can just see the headlines now - "Pampered public sector workers on spree in desert playground while recession Britain suffers". Sorry, just got a bit carried away there.

Isn't it nice how an economic downturn brings everyone together? A few weeks back, Labour and the Tories promised a bipartisan approach to dealing with the crisis and leading charity figures proclaimed the need for the sector to speak with one voice as recession begins to bite. Umbrella bodies the NCVO and Acevo even stopped bickering and collaborated on the Third Sector Crisis Summit last Monday. But let's not get carried away. While the NCVO was insisting it didn't want any advance publicity for the event, Acevo was calling for a "great debate" and publishing 16 ideas for discussion. That's more like it, lads.

For some, the summit could not come soon enough. Shelter has announced more than 30 redundancies and is struggling with a £2m budget deficit. But belt-tightening at the housing charity clearly hasn't kicked in just yet. Last week, it took out a colour ad in the Guardian for a campaigns, policy and communications director with a salary of £75,000. Well, they say the last thing you should do is cut back on advertising ...

 - Mathew Little is a freelance writer, mathew.little@haymarket.com

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