Family and Childcare Trust 'did not break rules on political bias'

Charity Commission says the use of Twitter hashtags also used by the Labour Party did not indicate bias in favour of that political organisation

Family and Childcare Trust
Family and Childcare Trust

The Family and Childcare Trust acted within its rules on political activity when it promoted two Twitter hashtags that were also used by the Labour Party, the Charity Commission has decided.

In December, Rob Wilson, the Conservative MP for Reading East, contacted the commission claiming the trust had used the social media platform Twitter to endorse the Labour Party.

He said the charity had used hashtags on its official Twitter account, including #childcarecrisis and #childcarecrunch, which Wilson said had been used and promoted by the Labour Party on the online platform.

The MP also raised concerns about links between a senior staff member at the charity and the Labour Party.

The commission opened an operational compliance case in January to establish if there had been a breach of its rules. In its report, published today, it says the trustees had confirmed that all campaigning decisions were "focused on fulfilling the purpose of the charity and that the trustees were involved in deciding upon, planning and evaluating campaigns".

The charity said that its annual conference the previous year had included speeches by a Conservative minister and a Labour shadow minister.

On the use of the Twitter hashtags, the charity explained that it had done so in order to join a "conversation that was relevant to the charity’s purposes".

The trustees say they were satisfied that "none of the charity’s tweets containing the named hashtags indicated a bias in favour of a particular political party".

The commission’s report concludes: "As a result of these explanations, we were satisfied that the charity has adequate procedures in place for ensuring that the benefits of any campaigns are properly weighed up against the potential risks and the charity’s independence and the public perception of this are maintained. Our conclusion was that the charity was complying with our guidance."

Anand Shukla, chief executive of the Family and Childcare Trust, said in a statement: "We are politically neutral and work with individuals and organisations from across the political spectrum to meet our charitable aims.

"We welcome that the Charity Commission has stated unequivocally that the Family and Childcare Trust has been operating in accordance with its guidance and procedures, and we will continue to campaign to make sure children and families have what they need to thrive."

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