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Changing Charities

Ed Miliband
Ed Miliband discusses the role of charities
BBC Radio 4's Analysis: Changing Charities, will be broadcast on Thursday, 5 July, 2007 at 20:30 BST.

Is government the charity of your choice?

It sounds like a contradiction in terms. But government is using the voluntary sector more and more to deliver public services.

Politicians and many of the largest charities are keen on the new arrangement, seeing it as a way to bring a new and flexible approach to a welfare state that often seems too monolithic and set in its ways.

But some charities feel the ever closer embrace of the state poses dangers.

Where government contracts don't cover the full cost of services, charitable donations can end up being used as subsidy.

There is little clear evidence yet of how far the voluntary sector really does deliver a better and more efficient service.

Others fear that, in the rush to win government favour, charities will lose their historic role as critics of policy and advocates for those neglected by state provision.

In the first of a new series of 'Analysis' Professor Alison Wolf of King's College London will be asking: Have we found a third way which offers the best of both public and private? Or just created a threat to charities' treasured ability to speak truth to power?

Among her interviewees are Ed Miliband, appointed last year as the first charities minister, Leslie Morphy from the homelessness charity Crisis, Suzi Leather, chair of the Charity Commission, Stephen Bubb of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organizations and the writer Nick Seddon.

Presenter: Alison Wolf
Producer: Chris Bowlby
Editor: Nicola Meyrick


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