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The justification for directing public money to particular charities is because those charities provide an essential service but, because they’re not as fashionable as donkey’s homes, they don’t get enough cash. Those unpopular but necessary charities are going to suffer under a voucher scheme just as they do under a cash scheme. If spending is not to increase, the government will immediately have less to spend on these more deserving cases.

This amounts to forced charitable donations – government takes money as tax then asks who you want it given to?! I would prefer the tax to be left in my pocket for me to decide for myself – with absolutely no chance of government strings.

It will add bureaucracy because this will not replace the previous system, it will add to it. That will reduce the amount going to good causes.

If the objective is to prise government’s dead fingers from the controls, there are simpler self-enforced treatments.

An excellent idea that will also ensure that charities recruit more volunteers. Many have very few indeed.

There still remains the problem that certain charities are always more popular with the public than others irrespective of the work that they do and such volunteer vouchers may widen the gulf between groups like Guide Dogs for the Blind and other charities.

However, if these details can be ironed out this idea has merit.

The state shouldn't be funding charities at all. More beaureaucratic intervention = more of taxpayers'/charities' money wasted. Cut out the middle man.

However, judged as just another soft, cuddly Tory non-policy - bravo!!

Agreed, platonist, because the essence of charity is that it is voluntary, and any "charity" which asks for or accepts money taken from taxpayers under threat of imprisonment is no longer a charity and should not be registered as such.

I think it's a good idea. Anything to get the money spent more efficeintly seems to me a good thing. As the CSJ already know there are a number of charities who have a much better record of success in getting people off drugs etc than the state. If their work can be expanded and more people helped then that is a good thing too.
Blair said when he was elected 'I like what works', so do I and am more interested in practical solutions to problems than ideological arguments.

But surely you don't choose your solutions in an ideological vacuum?

Charities accept taxpayers' money for purposes specified by the state, charities are no longer charities but are part of the state apparatus, eventually there are no charities which are not part of the state apparatus, the state has rolled forward.

If the state stopped poking its greedy little fingers in my wallet then my income would be GROSS of 40% income tax by the time it reached my chosen charities (through GAYE) rather than gross of the oh-so-generous 26% that the state sees fit to pass on.

Malcolm, I absolutely agree that organisations like C-FAR can have a track record that absolutely justifies government funding. The fact that C-FAR was allowed to go out of business is a plain example of this Labour government’s insincerity.

However, this proposal would have done nothing to protect C-FAR. If we public didn’t want to send C-FAR our cash, why would they send them our vouchers? No, the way to secure hands-off funding for organisations like C-FAR is not to put them at the mercy of the sentimental public who, when it comes to donations, would apparently rather save a pet than a person.

The main intention of Cheryl Gillan’s proposal is to apoliticize public funding of charities. That may happen, but at the expense of money going to the causes that actually need it. And if we can’t direct the money to the causes that actually need it, why should it be part of our tax burden?

I would prefer public funding of charities to remain politicized, but for it to be a sensible Conservative government in charge!

One of the main reasons for funding certain charities is that they have networks that are actually in direct touch with those most deserving to be recipients of that charity (Salvation Army, Shelter, Red Cross etc).
Governments seem quite incapable of delivering anything efficiently (Defra?), caring people in our society want to alleviate poverty, homelessness etc but don't like to see Brown squandering billions of our taxes on bureaucracy and crackpot schemes.
So let the government - on a properly accountable basis - fund those charities that will deliver the goods for the government.
As they recipient bodies are charities, why cannot the government give them charitable donations just as companies and individuals do?

A. Because it's not the government's money to be charitable with, it's our money, extracted from us under threat of imprisonment; and B. Because not only does the intervention of the state reduce the quantity of money available for charitable donations from individuals, it also tends to discourage such private donations; and C. it pushes forward the frontiers of the state rather than rolling them back.

I like the fresh approach aimed at trying to encourage voluntary input which this idea attempts to assist with. I did suggest to the policy review group another idea which is to set up a system that gives discounts on council tax to people who contribute to their local community through specified bodies on the basis that they are saving us money by strengthening local communities. It seems to me that would be a way we could build a new and greater sense of social responsibility that is so much needed,

Matt Wright

Nice idea, Matt - it's pretty much Gillan's point with a healthy dose of localism. I'd be slightly concerned that you require the local authority to specify which bodies qualify, but my main concern with all these schemes would be the administrative cost as a proportion of charitable benefit (I guess that really does mean I've lived under New Labour's inability to do anything efficiently for far too long now!).

I think there still needs to be other means of the state drawing on the expertise of the voluntary sector to help it learn how to deliver top-class public services, but this sounds like it is an excellent method of encouraging volunteerism in a way that benefits and rewards society as a whole.

What about matched funding, where for every pound given to a charity (say up to the annual income of the individual concerned or some other limit) the government would give another pound?

Thanks Richard. I think Conservatives need to really innovate, when we do we are at our best. I support tax cuts when we can achieve them without unsettling the economy and that is good in itself becasue it means we taking less away from hard working people BUT its not enough and doesn't necessarily encourage social responsibility. However I don't like too much direct state intervention as per the left as its expensive and often doesn't work. Somewhere in between there will be models that enable us to start to reduce the burden of tax on individuals while also rewarding community based behaviour in order to strengtehn the glue that holds society together. This too is good in itself and reduces the costs of failure,


Was going to write something but Matt @0833 says it perfectly. This is a great idea.

I thought we announced previously we didnt like education of NHS vouchers...whats the difference here?

Down the line isnt there a risk of state dependency by these charities? While charities do great work, allowing them to suckle at the teats of the State simply asks for problems down the line.

I think my approach is less one of directly funding more voluntary bodies but cutting "local" tax on those who want to give time helping them thus recognising that they are saving us money by being socially responsible. To me this seems to be a practical route for DC to encourage social responsibility.


Sorry this is so late, but I only just discovered this one, and had to comment, as the idea seems so popular with the posters.

Let me get this straight. The state will take my money by taxing me, and then give a little bit of it to everyone, for each of them to decide which special cause to give it to. Why are they better at deciding who to give my money to than I am?

Typical, wet Camoronism. As P.J. O'Rourke says:

"There is no virtue in compulsory government charity, and there is no virtue in advocating it. A politician who portrays himself as 'caring' and 'sensitive' because he wants to expand the government's charitable programs is merely saying that he's willing to try to do good with other people's money. Well, who isn't? And a voter who takes pride in supporting such programs is telling us that he'll do good with his own money -- if a gun is held to his head."

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