Appoint more Brexiteers to your board to combat perception of left-wing bias, former PM aide suggests

Charities should recruit more Brexiteers to their trustee boards, a former Downing Street aide has said.

Samuel Kasumu, who advised the Prime Minister on civil society and communities for two years before stepping down in 2021, said the move would help address a perception that charities have a left-wing bias.

Kasumu recorded his thoughts for NPC, as part of the charity think tank’s work celebrating its 20th anniversary.

“We know there is a really clear overlap between a lot of folks who are interested in civil society and a lot of folks who go on to become Labour MPs, or what have you,” he said.

“So I would say that sometimes people’s motives are not always pure as well.”

In order to separate policy discussions from any perceived political tensions, Kasumu said charities should “make sure that there is good representation of different groups” among their trustees.

He suggested that charities should ask themselves: “Does everybody on that board evidently support the Labour Party, or the Greens, or whatever?

“Do you have anyone that might have the semblance of a centre-right political world view – which is of course at the moment a majority view, because we have a Conservative majority government – on your board?

“Do you have anyone who might have voted to leave the European Union, or at least may have potentially inferred that they might at least even sympathise with that worldview that 52 per cent of the population voted for?”

Changes to the board could help charities reach “some sort of balance” and reassure partners that they can “trust that your motives are completely pure”, Kasumu said.

He has previously said “the majority of people in government” want a good relationship with the charity sector.

Later in the recording, Kasumu said the government might have made a mistake by focusing on small charities at the start of the coronavirus crisis.

The government initially prioritised funding “to make sure that the small charities that could go bust had enough resource to stay afloat and to deliver their work on the ground”, he said.

Kasumu continued: “But as the months went on, and the more I engaged with the sector and the more I was reflecting on outcomes, the more I felt like perhaps we should have focused our efforts more on the mid-sized charities and maybe even those who were slightly larger.

“They had the infrastructure already, they understood how to deliver work at scale – and actually, in terms of the impact and what we were looking for, we probably would have got more value from those [charities] who were more organised and had better systems in place.

“We probably got that wrong.”

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