Service providers 'must conform to Human Rights Act'

Charities that provide services to government should have to obey the Human Rights Act and the Freedom of Information Act, a Commons select committee report has recommended.

Public Services and the Third Sector: Rhetoric and Reality, published today by the Public Administration Select Committee, said that users of public services should receive the same level of protection under the law whoever provided their services.

It said that for this reason charities should be required to abide by freedom of information laws, have an effective complaints procedure and be accountable to an ombudsman.

The report also expressed scepticism about charities’ claims that public contracts distorted their missions and harmed their freedom to campaign.

Many of the risks to the sector which were identified in our inquiry appear to us to have been overplayed, the report said.

Graham Beech, director of marketing and communications at Rainer Crime Concern, a charity provider of public services, said he agreed that charities and public bodies providing public services should be covered by the same law.

We would have to look at how it would be done, though, he said. We would not want to see so much bureaucracy it got in the way of what makes charities such effective service providers.

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