Minister joins in trusts dispute

Mathew Little

Charities minister Fiona Mactaggart has joined the growing clamour about the Charity Commission's decision to allow service providers set up by local authorities to become charities.

Mactaggart said last week that "she was not wholly keen on" the commission's recent decision to give charitable status to two leisure trusts established by local councils in Greater Manchester. After the ruling by the commission, charities can now deliver services that local councils have a statutory duty to provide.

"There are misgivings because there is a risk that some people might try to shovel their activity into a charity without actually thinking about the concept of charity and trusteeship," she said.

"There is a risk that the reputation of charity could be diminished because it might be seen as a front to deliver the same old services."

She added that the commission was in a good position to prevent that happening.

Charity lawyers and the Directory of Social Change have also questioned whether charities set up by local councils will be genuinely independent.

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