Charity boss who advises Jeremy Hunt criticises third sector’s ‘infantilised’ relationship with government

Andy Haldane says voluntary organisations need to 'put their best foot forward'

Andy Haldane

A charity chief executive who has the ear of the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, has accused the third sector of having a “rather infantilised” relationship with the government.

Royal Society of the Arts boss Andy Haldane urged charities to find alternatives to simply saying: “We’re doing all these good things so give us more money.”

Haldane is a former Bank of England chief economist who chairs the government’s Levelling-Up Advisory Council and is a senior economic advisor to Hunt.

Speaking at a School for Social Entrepreneurs event, the founder and president of Pro Bono Economics said civil society had been underinvested in, but added that the sector did not always “put its best foot forward”.

He said it “sometimes has had a rather infantilised relationship with central government [and says] ‘we’re doing all these good things and give us more money’, without backing up its impact with clear evidence and without necessarily seeking alternative sources of financing”.

He spoke of the need for radical change, saying: “Too much fixing goes on in public policy and not enough shifting things goes on in public policy.

“If what you think your job is is to take something that isn’t quite working and tinker with it to make it a bit better, almost certainly what you’ll achieve is pretty minuscule.

“The system itself is in the wrong shape. It’s the wrong system. Unless you are shifting systems, you’re shifting almost nothing at all.”

Haldane cited Match Trading as a potential vehicle for change.

The funding programme sees grants to charities matched pound-for-pound to any increase in trading.

Haldane also called for societal recognition for people’s voluntary work.

He said: “One idea is to have voluntary and charity activities recognised much more clearly in people’s CVs. I like the idea of people having some sort of digital passport which recognises, and might even reward, people’s giving of their time.

“Partly as a way of encouraging even more people to take part in these activities but also as a way to recognise this as a valid career pathway.”

Robin Chu, School for Social Entrepreneurs’ director of strategic projects, said: “As a learning organisation at its heart, SSE is all about stimulating social enterprises across the UK to do what we know they do best – simultaneously creating positive impact and contributing economically to their communities.

“Andy Haldane is rightly one of the UK’s most respected voices on the big issues of today and it’s a privilege to talk with him on our sector’s biggest issues in front of an audience of sector leaders, funders and practitioners.

“This feels like the start of something special and a call to action to those holding the pen on policy to engage with our sector.”

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