Politics: Analysis - Lack of enthusiasm for Tory leader's Scarman message

Nathalie Thomas

Voluntary bodies have expressed concern at Tory leader David Cameron's proposal for large voluntary organisations to act as "conduits" for government funding. They say large charities would risk turning into arms of government.

In a speech to the Scarman Trust last month, Cameron suggested that large charities and local councils should distribute government money to smaller groups and not deliver services themselves.

"The ending of the single regeneration budget and EU funding for the community sector will amount to a loss of £170m a year," he said. "I want to ensure it's not the small-scale local organisations that lose out.

We need to make sure local government and large voluntary groups act less as final recipients of government funding and more as conduits."

But Ben Wittenberg, head of fundraising and research at the Directory of Social Change, said charities could become agents for government. "It would be very unlikely they would have a great deal of say," he said.

Ann Blackmore, head of policy at the NCVO, said: "Size isn't the issue.

It's identifying the most appropriate solution in that particular community."

Blackmore added that some large organisations would "not have the legal grounds" to take on a grant-making role.

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