'Don't become cowardly,' charities told

The sector must guard against turning into a cowardly arm of government, according to Sean Bailey, a prospective Conservative candidate and co-founder of young person's charity My Generation.

Bailey made the comments during a debate at the NCVO’s political conference on Wednesday, where he was joined by newspaper columnists Peter Oborne and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and the Young Foundation’s associate director Rushanara Ali.

“We are becoming cowards, an arm of government – you can see it in the terminology we use, phrases such as: ‘best practice’ and ‘value for money’,” he told the audience. “The sector is currently a very hot thing, but it’s up to us to make sure we secure lasting policies.

“Will we become second-tier civil servants, or innovative people who know what we are about rather than told what we are about?”

Bailey also warned that the professionalisation of the sector meant that the very people that sector services were aimed at were increasingly being excluded from having any real input into the running of those services.

But Alibhai-Brown disagreed. “Professionalisation of the sector was long overdue,” she said. “I saw many voluntary projects in the 80s die because of a lack of professionalisation.”

She also advised charities not to let themselves be manipulated by MPs. “The sector should not allow itself to be used for political photo opportunities,” she added

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