The boss of the think tank NPC has called on the government to stop “bearing down unnecessarily on campaigning” and “woke attacks” on charities that are “politically useful in the short term”.
Dan Corry outlined his vision for a more progressive sector post-pandemic on day two of NPC’s annual conference earlier today.
He said the sector needed to be seen as a genuine partner by the government at all levels.
He warned charities to “move fast” and to make powerful, evidence-based arguments to policymakers or the sector might “miss this window of opportunity” to show why it is absolutely necessary to the nation’s post-pandemic recovery.
“But importantly, the government needs to change if the sector is to be able to do its best, and that is surely something they should want,” said Corry.
“So I say to them, stop bearing down unnecessarily on campaigning, there are genuine worries in the sector currently around the Police [Crime, Sentencing and Courts] Bill and the Elections Bill around restrictions on judicial review and gagging clauses around contracts.”
His comments were in stark contrast to those made by Danny Kruger, the Conservative MP for Devizes, who told the conference yesterday that there needs to be a framework for giving public money to charities that campaign against the government.
Corry said the sector needed to be given “a proper place in the heart of decision making”.
He said: “It's nothing against the new minister or to say to governments, but you should not downgrade our voice, with no dedicated minister, no office of civil society, tucked away in the wrong department, civil society is at the heart of British life, and it needs to be heard in Westminster and Whitehall.”
At the end of last week the government announced that sports and tourism minister Nigel Huddleston had the charities brief added to his list of responsibilities.
It means the sector returns to the position of not having its own dedicated minister after Baroness Barran was redeployed three weeks ago to the Department for Education as part of the long-running government reshuffle.
Despite the downgraded role, Corry welcomed the new civil society minister but also made an appeal to those ministers who influence the sector.
“Please resist the temptation to make woke attacks on charities because it's politically useful in the short term,” said Corry. “This will cause long term damage to our pluralist democracy.”
Corry called for more support for small charities but also recognition of the importance of the big, national charities because for some problems he said “size really does matter”.
He said the sector would be crucial to solving many of the major issues facing society such as the climate crisis, social care, poverty and inequality and asked the government and the sector to “find ways to work together”.
“Because together, we are so much stronger,” he said.