EDITORIAL: Community Fund line is unlikely to satisfy anybody

LUCY MAGGS

The Community Fund has, unsurprisingly, gone ahead with the controversial grant to the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns but with the introduction of a few caveats. The organisation must not support people convicted of terrorism and, along with all other recipients of Community Fund grants, its publications and policies must not be "doctrinaire".

Richard Buxton, chief executive of the fund, has defined doctrinaire as "taking an absolute, non-negotiable position" (see p13).

The word "doctrinaire" is sufficiently vague to be left open to interpretation from all sides. Organisations given grants from the fund in future will find Daily Mail journalists combing their web sites for comments that could be interpreted as "doctrinaire". Those refused grants will have room to argue their case, in court if necessary.

The fund may have been better off looking to Charity Commission guidance and not funding organisations that exist entirely to achieve a political purpose. Although the fund quite rightly helps non-charities, commission guidance is clear on what is and is not acceptable. The fund's line that organisations must not be "doctrinaire" is not.

The Community Fund has admittedly been put in a very difficult position and subjected to intense pressure from the media, the Government and the voluntary sector. But this attempt at a compromise seems unlikely to satisfy anyone. To The Daily Mail and its followers, it's an unsatisfactory "gesture".

And to many in the voluntary sector, it's a worrying move towards allowing the Government to interfere in the distribution of lottery funding.

The lottery review is due to close at the end of this month and, in order to restore its damaged reputation, must clarify how organisations are selected for funding. But the sector needs to keep a close eye on it and make sure that the current furore doesn't become an excuse for the Government to take lottery funding under its own wing.

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