Third Sector at Large: Not a good time to be forking out for washing-up lessons

The Charity Commission, Dame Suzi Leather and Lord Hodgson's Big Society Deregulation Taskforce are all on our minds this week

- Remember the hair-raising afternoon when revolting students stormed past parliament, ran rings around police and occupied Millbank Tower? One of the offices they trashed was that of the 're Charity Commission, breaking the glass door and raiding the kitchen. But the commission has come off lightly: thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, we discover that £3,319.20 to repair the door was paid by insurance taken out by the Audit Commission, with which the commission shares its digs. The landlord paid for a broken window, and all the commission forked out was £429.30 for replacing and servicing fire extinguishers. Just as well, given its 33 per cent real-terms budget cut.

- And that cut hovers over everything. When the commission's chief executive, Sam Younger, was asked at the Charity Finance Directors' Group conference last week if he expected there to be fewer charities in future, he smiled ruefully and said: "We could certainly do with it." The total as of 31 March was a modest 161,687.

- A small sigh of relief last week, perhaps, from Younger's chair, Dame Suzi Leather. It was announced that Simon Heffer, the bilious, carrot-haired columnist, has written his last polemic for The Daily Telegraph. Heffer was the one who called her "this shocking woman", running a "Labour front organisation". Recently, however, he's been tormenting David Cameron, so maybe Dame Suzi and Conservative Central Office should be raising a glass together.

- This week's fun event will be the launch of the report of Lord Hodgson's Big Society Deregulation Taskforce: expect multiple examples of ludicrous bureaucratic excess by the nanny state. We hope he's picked up on the Broadgreen Breakfast Club, a charity in Swindon that, according to the Swindon Advertiser, complied with elf 'n' safety by spending £300 of its precious £20,000 budget paying for half a dozen volunteers to be taught how to wash up. The local MP mentioned something about sucking, grannies and eggs.

- Update from the department of terminological inexactitude: Toby Eccles of Social Finance admitted earlier this year that the social impact bond isn't really a bond, and last week Sir Ronald Cohen confirmed that the Big Society Bank isn't really a bank. What next - the National Citizen Service isn't really a service and the big society is really small to medium-sized?

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