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Charity Commission raps Tomorrow's People for 'supporting' Conservatives

By Kaye Wiggins, Third Sector Online, 13 August 2010

Appearance of chief executive Debbie Scott in party's election manifesto amounted to giving the charity's support to the Tories, commission says

The Charity Commission has censured employment charity Tomorrow’s People over its decision to allow its chief executive, Debbie Scott, to appear in the Conservative Party election manifesto.

Scott, who accepted an offer last year to become a Conservative peer, appeared in a full-page picture on page 14 of the Conservative Party’s 2010 election manifesto, Invitation to Join the Government of Britain.

In an assessment report published today, the commission says this amounted to providing support to the party on behalf of the charity. The commission’s guidance emphasises that charities must not support or oppose political parties or candidates, but can campaign on a policy that coincides with that of a political party.

The commission has not issued Tomorrow’s People with any formal sanctions or opened a regulatory compliance case, but has provided the charity with guidance on "the legal and regulatory requirements that must be complied with by charities and the risks associated with any engagement within the political environment", the report says.

In response to the commission’s investigation into the case, the charity said its contribution to the manifesto was intended to indicate support for the Conservative Party’s proposed Work Programme, rather than the party as a whole.

But the commission’s assessment report says: "By agreeing to contribute to the manifesto, the charity has provided support to the party, and this is the case even if the contribution was only intended to support the single Work Programme. The commission was unable to see how this decision would not adversely affect the charity’s independence or fail to be perceived as providing or encouraging support for the party policies as a whole."

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