Is dissent becoming de rigeur, asks the NCIA?

As ever great May newsletter packed with opinion and information from our friends at the National Coalition for Independent Action –


Given the developing debate within youth and community work about our relationship to the government’s agenda and whether there are alternatives to compliance and co-option I can’t resist quoting in full the opening ‘editorial’.

Is dissent becoming de rigeur?
There appears to be an outbreak of dissent amongst some of the large national charities, in opposition to government policies and practices. This hopeful sign that retaining a ‘seat at the table’ may not be the driving force behind their public pronouncements was first triggered earlier this year by the high profile campaign by the National Trust, Campaign for the Protection of Rural England and others against the government’s proposed changes to the planning regulations.
More recently Paul Farmer, chief executive of MIND has resigned from a government committee – and went public in protest – at the ATOS work assessments, part of the moves to dis-entitle thousands of people from disability benefits.
This was followed by Victim Support’s Jahed Khan, who publicly opposed the plan to hand commissioning of services for victims and witnesses of crime to 42 local police and crime commissioners, to be elected in November. Khan says: “Eighty per cent of our funding comes from central government, so it is a very bold and brave step we have taken and not something many charities do. It is not something we have done before, but we have done it for very good reasons.” Khan then got support from Andrew Flanagan, CE of the NSPCC.
And in praising the growing number of dissenters, Stephen Cook, editor of Third Sector magazine has recently called for more courage on the part of sector agencies in the need to challenge political and bureaucratic conditions on funding. “Government funding”, he said, “frequently comes with strings attached in the form of confidentiality clauses and even requirements to sign up to political policy objectives…… Independence should not be negotiable.”
Much more of this and we’ll be able to hang up our clogs and get back to the garden (only joking).

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