Letter to the Prime Minister re Anti-Advocacy Clause

10 February 2016

 

 

The Rt Hon David Cameron MP

The Prime Minister

10 Downing Street

London

SW1A 2AA

 

 

 

 

Dear Prime Minister

 

Anti-advocacy clauses

 

We are writing following the publication of Cabinet Office guidelines to prohibit organisations in receipt of grant funding from influencing government or parliament. The proposed guidance would prevent the use of funding to inform public policy and bans organisations also from discussing issues related to the work funded by the grant with government officials or parliamentarians. 

 

You have long recognised that voluntary organisations play a much needed role in policy development and regulatory reform. Facilitated by the open policy making approach you have championed, voluntary organisations bring the real-world experience of users and evidence-based expertise into public policy debate.

 

We support the principle that taxpayers’ money must be well spent. And it is because of this that these proposals are flawed in principle, for they may actually cost the taxpayer more money through limiting the range of insight that policy makers can draw upon.

 

Organisations funded by government have helped to reform and improve public services. They have held providers to account and brought to public attention failures that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. Much of this work can and does save taxpayers money, contrary to the assertions of the report cited as evidence for the introduction of the proposals. The clause itself (published on 8 February on Gov.uk) is drawn incredibly widely and could have a far broader impact than your original intention.

 

For example, in October 2015, you announced a £5million grant fund for charities as part of the government’s counter-extremism strategy. As currently drafted, the new clause will undermine the ability of these charities to feed in valuable insights that may help government – those working on programmes receiving any grant funding would be prohibited from speaking to MPs about developments in their local area, suggesting improvements to policy or legislation, responding to your government’s own consultations, meeting ministers to discuss broader issues and evidence from their porgramme or even from giving evidence if called by a select committee.

 
Another example is that of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Awareness of FGM, and the action which has subsequently been taken against this, has occurred primarily due to the work of key charities which, thankfully, were in receipt of government funding. This clause would almost certainly have prohibited that vital initiative.

 

In your first speech as leader of the Conservative party you set out how you wanted to ‘set free the voluntary sector and social enterprises to deal with the linked problems that blight so many of our communities, of drug abuse, family breakdown, poor public space, chaotic home environments, high crime’. You have repeatedly reiterated your commitment to social justice, which depends upon building alliances of grassroots organisations. To say to those organisations that government will work in partnership with them but if they do, they will not be heard, is surely contrary to those commitments.  And only this week you set out your ambitions for the reform of the prison service. Charities have been at the forefront of campaigning for such reforms for decades. It would be a tragedy if in future such critical advocacy work were inhibited.

 

Both Parliament and government play an important role in addressing these issues, and it is important that they remain well informed about how policies and programmes are making a difference on the ground.

 

As Prime Minister you have recognised that voluntary organisations play a crucial role in our democracy. Indeed, these proposals are at odds with the entire framework under which your government has sought to develop sound working relationships with voluntary organisations.

 

The Compact, which you signed in 2010, remains an important signifier of government commitment to working effectively with the voluntary and community sector. In signing it you committed government to:

 

Respect and uphold the independence of civil society organisations to deliver their mission, including their right to campaign, regardless of any relationship, financial or otherwise, which may exist.

 

We believe that a strong, effective working relationship between voluntary organisations and the state, based upon mutual respect and understanding, is beneficial to the people of this country and beyond. The ability of voluntary organisations to campaign, regardless of any financial relationship, is a defining characteristic of this relationship. Abandoning this protection is surely not the intended consequence of these proposals, as their impact runs contrary to the relationship you have sought to develop. As such, we urge you to reconsider them and work with the voluntary sector to find a constructive way forward.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Sir Stephen Bubb,                Chief Executive                     ACEVO

Sir Stuart Etherington           Chief Executive                     NCVO

Dr John Low CBE                 Chief Executive                     Charities Aid Foundation

Caron Bradshaw                   Chief Executive                     Charity Finance Group

Sally Light                              Chief Executive                     Motor Neurone Disease Association

Tracey Bleakley                     Chief Executive                     Hospice UK

Bridget Doogan                    Chief Executive                     St John of God Hospice

Julie Bentley                          Chief Executive                     Girl Guiding

Barbara Frost                        Chief Executive                     WaterAid

Richard Leaman                   Chief Executive                     Guide Dogs

Janet Morrison                      Chief Executive                     Independent Age

Tim Cooper                           Chief Executive                     United Response

Mark Goldring                        Chief Executive                     Oxfam

Paul Streets                           Chief Executive                     Lloyds Bank Foundation

Jeremy Hughes                     Chief Executive                     Alzheimer's Society

David McCullough                 Chief Executive                     Royal Voluntary Service

Matt Hyde                               Chief Executive                     Scouts Association

Susan Daniels                       Chief Executive                     NDCS

Heidi Travis                           Chief Executive                     Sue Ryder

Rob Owen OBE                    Chief Executive                     St Giles Trust

Mark Simms                          Chief Executive                     P3 Charity

Girish Menon                         Chief Executive                     ActionAid

Debbie Bannigan                  Chief Executive                     Swanswell

Michael Adamson                 Chief Executive                     British Red Cross

Jonathan Senker                   Chief Executive                     VoiceAbility

Mark Atkinson                       Chief Executive                     Scope

Nick Caplin                            Chief Executive                     Blind Veterans UK

Martin Houghton-Brown        Chief Executive                     DePaul Charity

Campbell Robb                     Chief Executive                     Shelter

Jon Sparkes                          Chief Executive                     Crisis

Malcolm Shepherd CBE      Chief Executive                     Sustrans

David Hughes                        Chief Executive                     Learning and Work Institute

Beccy Speight                       Chief Executive                     Woodland Trust

Sara Llewellin                        Chief Executive                     Barrow Cadbury Trust

Neil Cleeveley                       Chief Executive                     NAVCA

Jacob Tas                              Chief Executive                     NACRO

Loretta Minghella                  Chief Executive                     Christian Aid

Ben Jackson                          Chief Executive                     BOND

David Cutler                           Chief Executive                     Baring Foundation

David Emerson CBE            Chief Executive                     Assn of Charitable Foundations

David Warner                        Chief Executive                     London Funders

Jeremy Taylor                        Chief Executive                     National Voices

Julian Corner                         Chief Executive                     Lankelly Chase Foundation

Kathy Evans                           Chief Executive                     Children England

Moira Sinclair                        Chief Executive                     Paul Hamlyn Foundation

Peter Holbrook                      Chief Executive                     Social Enterprise UK

Susanne Rauprich                Chief Executive                     National Council for Voluntary Youth Services

Jon Barrick                            Chief Executive                     Stroke Association

Mark Lever                             Chief Executive                     National Autistic Society

Samantha Goodwin              Mktg & Comms Mgr             Real Life Options

David Miller                            Director                                  Spinwatch

John Knights                          Head of Operations              Sheila McKechnie Foundation

Janine Tregelles                    Chief Executive                     Mencap

Stephen Deuchar                  Chief Executive                     Art Fund

Michael Gidney                     Chief Executive                     Fairtrade Foundation

Alexandra Runswick Chief Executive                     Unlock Democracy

Chris Sherwood                    Chief Executive                     Relate

Ratna Dutt                              Chief Executive                     Race Equality Foundation

David Bull                               Chief Executive                     UNICEF

Martin Wyn Griffith                 Chair                                       UnLtd

Michelle Mitchell                    Chief Executive                     MS Society

Michael Ryan             Chief Executive                     St Luke’s Community Centre

Mark Castle                           Chief Executive                     Victim Support

Stephanie Hilborne               Chief Executive                     Wildlife Trust

Polly Neate                            Chief Executive                     Women’s Aid

Simon Antrobus                    Chief Executive                     Addaction

Paula Braynion                      Chief Executive                     Future Directions CIC

Sophie Livingstone               Chief Executive                     City Year UK

Shirley Moore                        Chief Executive                     The Befriending Scheme

Sue Walton                            Chief Executive                     Pestalozzi

Karen Walker                        Chief Executive                     Multiple System Atrophy Trust

Mark Winstanley                    Chief Executive                     Rethink Mental Illness

Stephen Hale             Chief Executive                     Refugee Action

Oonagh Aitken                      Chief Executive                     Volunteering Matters

Jonathan Jenkins                  Chief Executive                     Social Investment Business

Alex Fox                                 Chief Executive                     Shared Lives Plus

Adam O’Boyle                       Chief Executive                     Hub Ventures

Kate MacDonald                   Chief Executive                     YPSF

Allison Ogden-Newton          Chief Executive                     Keep Britain Tidy

Andy Winter                           Chief Executive                     Brighton Housing Trust

Sara Mitchell                          Chief Executive                     Carers Network

Cathy James                         Chief Executive                     Public Concern at Work

Robert Longley-Cook           Chief Executive                     HfT

Lynne Regent                        Chief Executive                     Anaphylaxis Campaign

David Warner                        Chief Executive                     London Funders

Andrew Waite                        Chief Executive                     Greenwich MENCAP

Beth Gardner             Chief Executive                     Fair Train

Simone Enefer-Doy              Chief Executive                     Lifelites

Tony Okotie                           Chief Executive                     Liverpool VCS

Menai Owen-Jones               Chief Executive                     Pituitary Foundation

Simone Spray                       Chief Executive                     42nd Street

Paul Martin                             Chief Executive                     LGBT Foundation

Gail Scott Spicer                   Chief Executive                     Carers Trust

Matt Dymond                         Chief Executive                     South Gloucester Youth Housing

Lisa Lenton                            Chief Executive                     ARC England

Dr Kay Miller                          Chief Executive                     Dr Hadwen Trust

Claire Periton                        Chief Executive                     Helen & Douglas House

Nick Hartshorne Evans         Chief Executive                     Pumping Marvellous Foundation

Dr Mike Heyworth MBE        Director                                  Council for British Archaeology

Richard Barritt                       Chief Executive                     Solent Mind

Alison Garnham                    Chief Executive                     Child Poverty Action Group

Maureen Falloon                   Chief Executive                     Age UK Bromley & Greenwich

Jenny Saunders OBE           Chief Executive                     National Energy Action

Cheryl Ward                           Chief Executive                     Family Fund

Ellie Munro                             Policy Officer                         Motor Neurone Disease Association

Jan Tregelles             Chief Executive                     MENCAP

Pamela Ball                           Chief Executive                     Knowsley CVS

Judi Rhys                               Chief Executive                     Arthritis Care

Caroline Mason                     Chief Executive                     Esmee Fairbairn Foundation

Keith Starling                         Interim Chief Executive         Big Society Capital

Bharat Mehta             Chief Executive                     Trust for London

Gillian Caldwell                      Chief Executive                     Global Witness

Jo Wells                                 Director                                  The Blagrave Trust

Rick Henderson                    Chief Executive                     Homeless Link

Tony Armstrong                     Chief Executive                     Locality

Rosemary Macdonald          Chief Executive                     Community Foundation for Wilshire & Swindon

Sue Milman                            Chief Executive                     Ataxia UK

Sharon Coyle             Chief Executive                     Children’s Heart Surgery Fund

Kirsty Smith                           Chief Executive                     CMBUK

Amanda Hedley                    Chief Executive                     Norwich & Central Norfolk Mind

Anna Feuchtwang                 Chief Executive                     National Children’s Bureau

Clare Wightman                    Chief Executive                     Grapevine

Mike Wild                               Chief Executive                     MACC

Paul Morrish                          Chief Executive                     LandAid

Dr Mike Clarke                      Chief Executive                     RSPB

Mark Flannagan                    Chief Executive                     Beating Bowel Cancer

Shane Ryan                           Chief Executive                     Working With Men

Andrew Langford                  Chief Executive                     British Liver Trust

Wendy Thomas                     Chief Executive                     The Migraine Trust

Peter Poole                           Chief of Staff                          Combat Stress

Shaun Griffin                          Exec Director                        Terrence Higgins Trust

Jules Hillier                            Interim Chief Executive         Brook

Amanda Batten                     Chief Executive                     Contact a Family

Alison Taylor                          Chief Executive                     The Children’s Liver Disease Foundation

Robert Johnstone                  Chair                                       Access Matters

Fabian French                       Chief Executive                     UK Community Foundations

Gerry Lejeune OBE              Chief Executive                     Berkshire Community Foundation

Glyn Davies                           Acting Chief Executive         WWF

Laurie Lee                             Chief Executive                     Care International

Alison Page                           Chief Executive                     Salford Community & Voluntary Services

Warren Escadale                  Chief Executive                     Voluntary Sector North West(VSNW)

Debbie Ladds                       Chief Executive                     Local Trust

Tanya Barron             Chief Executive                     Plan UK

John Jolly                               Chief Executive                     Blenheim CDP

Chris Whitwell                        Director                                  Friends, Families and Travellers

Stephen Woollett                   Chief Executive                     South West Forum

David Barker                         Chief Executive                     Crohn’s and Colitis UK

Paul Farmer                           Chief Executive                     Mind

Heidi Wilson                          Chair                                       The I Have IIH Foundation

Jane Hartley                           Chief Executive                     VONNE

Richard Pendlebury              Chair                                       Voscur

Dr James Munro                   Chief Executive                     Patient Opinion

Professor Alan Cottenden   Chairman                               Bladder & Bowel Foundation

Georgette Mulheir                 Chief Executive                     Lumos

Anna Smee                            Chief Executive                     UK Youth

Ruth Sutherland                     Chief Executive                     Samaritans

Sally Yeoman             Chief Executive                     Halton & St Helens Voluntary & Community Action

Peter Holbrook                      Chair                                       Compact Voice