Almost six out of 10 people believe it is acceptable for charities to criticise the government even if they receive funding from it, according to research carried out by the think tank nfpSynergy.
A survey of 1,000 British adults, carried out in October, found that 57 per cent of respondents agreed it was acceptable for charities to criticise government or local authorities that had commissioned them to provide services.
NfpSynergy said the research, which was carried out before the government announced last month that it would insert an anti-lobbying clause into all grant agreements to prevent charities from using such funds to influence government or parliament, showed "overwhelming" support for charities’ right to campaign.
Sixty-six per cent of respondents said they agreed it was acceptable for charities across the board to campaign to change the law, and 64 per cent said it was acceptable for charities to campaign on issues that affected their beneficiaries.
The think tank has also pointed to research it carried out in 2014 in which 63 per cent of respondents said it was acceptable for charities to challenge government policy, with 8 per cent saying it was unacceptable. The same research found that 49 per cent of respondents said it was acceptable for a state-funded charity to challenge government policy, against 17 per cent who said it was unacceptable.
"Our research shows that the public is comfortable with charities engaging in the political process," says a paper from nfpSynergy, published today.
The document also highlights further nfpSynergy research from 2014, which found that 77 per cent of MPs surveyed said it was acceptable for charities to highlight the impact of a policy on their beneficiaries. Ninety-six per cent of journalists said this was acceptable, according to nfpSynergy.