Grayling attack on campaigning 'shows lack of understanding of the sector'

Alex Swallow (pictured), head of the Small Charities Coalition, criticises the justice secretary, who told a debate there is '20 to 30 times' more lobbying by charities than by big business

Alex Swallow
Alex Swallow

Alex Swallow, chief executive of the Small Charities Coalition has criticised Chris Grayling, the justice secretary, for comments he made about campaigning charities earlier this week.

Grayling was speaking at a debate on social welfare as part of the Lord Mayor’s Charity Leadership Programme series of lectures, sponsored by Cass Business School.

During the debate, Grayling spoke about the role of charities in campaigning activities just after another speaker asserted that campaigning was a central function of charities.

"I disagree strongly with the campaigning side," said Grayling. "People talk about the amount MPs are lobbied by big business, but I would say that there is 20 to 30 times as much lobbying from the charitable sector, perhaps even more."

Grayling said he saw large charities that had well-funded campaigning teams but also had "cash-strapped" local branches trying to provide services to communities.

"I think: ‘Are you sure you've got the balance right?' From the point of view of a constituency MP, it doesn't feel right at all."

Swallow said after the event that Grayling’s comments demonstrated a lack of understanding of the charity sector.

He said: "Charities seem to be a convenient hobby horse these days for some politicians to attack. The vast majority of charitable organisations out there are tiny and run mainly or completely by volunteers, making a real difference in local communities every day.

"I don't have enough space to explain the issues I have with all the views that Chris Grayling expressed, but they show a real lack of understanding of what charities do and why they do it. Even more than this, I think his views show a lack of respect for the very real problems that charities face and their tireless efforts to help vulnerable groups."

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