Third Sector at Large: Charity super-gag and Wakefield's super-songstress

The gagging of charities in the government's Work Programme, Acevo's cramped offices and the VAT YouTube video are on our minds this week

Silenced: if you're going to be gagged, it might as well be a super-gag
Silenced: if you're going to be gagged, it might as well be a super-gag

- The gagging of charities in the government's Work Programme, revealed in Third Sector in January, is more serious than we thought. Steve Kerr of the London Voluntary Service Council was telling the Panel on the Independence of the Voluntary Sector last week that his survey of them included a question about confidentiality clauses in their contracts. "One of them said they couldn't talk about the gagging clause because they'd been gagged from talking about gagging," said Kerr. Is this the first outing of the super-gag, a relative of those super-injunctions that stop you even saying they exist?

- Roll on the day when Acevo finally leaves its cramped offices in London's New Oxford Street for the heady spaces of the building it is going to share with the NCVO, overlooking the Regent's Canal near King's Cross. Lesley-Anne Alexander, chair of the chief executives body, recounted last week how she'd asked someone for a printout and watched in amazement as he rummaged under his desk, pulled out a printer and balanced it on his knee as it whirred away. "I knew then it was time for a move," she said. Life is even harder up north, of course.

- Members of the Charity Tax Group are having fun, if you can call it that, with the Budget's various outrages on the voluntary sector. One egghead has worked out that the £20m or so that the cap on charitable tax relief will bring the Exchequer will stop the deficit getting larger for no more than an hour and a quarter. And Pamela Greener, a tax consultant and wife of the dean of Wakefield Cathedral, has posted a clip on YouTube of herself singing a ditty to George Osborne about how the imposition of VAT on repairs to listed buildings has brought the cathedral's renovations to a halt - "I hope this song will twist your arm etc." Great piano, singing voice a bit, a bit ... hmm.

- The CTG meeting also got a blast from the past in the form of veteran Tory MP Tim Yeo recalling his time as chief of the Spastics Society - Scope to you and me. They placed an anti-VAT ad in The Times some 30 years ago with a picture of a robber wielding a shotgun and the legend "If you're a charity, this is how you'll see the taxman". Plus ca change.

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