The Conservative peer Lord Hodgson has said some charities are "government departments in all but name" and questioned whether it is right that they have charitable status.
Speaking to an audience of charity representatives at the Westminster Social Policy Forum in London yesterday, Hodgson, who earlier this year completed his review of the Charities Act 2006, said he supported "the voluntary principle at the heart of the sector", but that some charities raised no funds from the public, used no volunteers and derived all of their income from the state.
Hodgson said that one example of this was the British Council, the largest charity in the UK by annual income. It had an income of £738.5m in 2011/12."Is it a charity, I ask you?" said Hodgson. "I’m not sure."
Hodgson also said that national charities often exerted too much control over their local branches, and that many medium-sized charities were "moribund or semi-moribund", in that they were not achieving much, and should close or merge with other organisations.