Charities are government contractors

Have your say

From: Judy Robinson, Chief Executive, Involve Yorkshire & Humber.

I AM writing in response to Tom Richmond’s comments about charities which are “totally reliant on government money” (Yorkshire Post, December 8).

I think the comment doesn’t reflect what really happens. Many charities receiving Government money do so precisely because Government contracts with them to provide services.

In fact, Government itself wants to contract more services to the charity sector. This is because they are experts in services, say for children, that the state finds hard to do itself – and often they do this at less cost than if the state ran them.

Charities also have access to volunteers. So, far from costing the public purse money, it saves money!

In Involve’s experience, as the support organisation for charities in Yorkshire and Humber, very few charities want to rely on grants alone and work hard to raise all sorts of other monies. This might be contrasted with certain private sector organisations that are entirely reliant on government contracts as well.

If charities had to rely on donations we would see popular causes like donkey sanctuaries – they already get a lot of giving – and organisations working with cute toddlers flourishing.

But when those toddlers become troubled teenagers the big donations tend to dry up. That’s where support from the public sector comes in.

It helps charities to do work that donations alone would not support. And if this work isn’t done the impact would be on us all as we’d see more homeless people on the street or the growth of domestic violence.

It is a price worth paying for a civilised society.

The price of transparency

From: Victoria Fox, Head of Guidance, Party and Election Finance, The Electoral Commission, Bunhill Row, London.

JACK Brown is right that there have been changes in standing for election since the 1950s (Electoral change that frustrates independents, Yorkshire Post, December 12.)

This is because voters are entitled to transparency and accountability from political parties that seek their support.

The law to which Mr Brown refers seeks to strike a balance between making it easy to set up a political party and ensuring that the public can find out about the party, including where they get their money from and how they spend it.

As the independent elections watchdog, the Electoral Commission provides this information on our website.

The law sets a fee of £150 to register a political party (the amount has remained unchanged or over a decade), Commission staff are always on hand to guide potential parties through the registration process, and the responsibilities that come with being a registered party. We provide guidance and regularly receive positive feedback from parties and independent candidates alike for the proactive and positive support that we offer.

The Electoral Commission makes sure elections are well run, and regulates political parties and candidates. But it is Parliament that decides who can vote, how they vote and how parties and candidates will be regulated, not the Commission.

Going viral

From: Will Harris, Terrence Higgins Trust, Gray’s Inn Road, London.

JG Riseley’s letter (Yorkshire Post, December 14) suggested that the spread of the UK’s HIV epidemic could be tackled by charging those affected for the medication they need to keep them alive. It is unclear whether JG Riseley would also advocate a “modest financial contribution” from those with other medical conditions, perhaps charging someone with diabetes for insulin, or someone with lung cancer for chemotherapy.

Aside from the obvious ethical implications of placing a financial barrier on life-saving drugs, the letter overlooked one important point. Most new infections in the UK come from the one in four people with HIV who don’t yet know they have it. Modern treatments for HIV significantly reduce the level of the virus in a person’s body, making them far less likely to pass it on than someone who is untreated.

Put simply, the more people with HIV who know their status and are accessing treatment, 
the fewer new infections there will be.

Placing any kind of financial restriction on medication would therefore represent an enormous backward step for HIV prevention efforts in this country.

Nominal origins

From: Ken Hartford, Durham Mews, Butt Lane, Beverley.

I READ Phil Johnson’s letter (Yorkshire Post, December 10) with interest.

My family have married into Johnsons and, of course, the origin of the name is merely son of John – hence its worldwide occurrence. Philipson and so on have similar derivatives and derive, of course, from Christian names.

What I think is important about these and similarly derived names (and they are only “names” – definitions carrying a degree of recognition) is that they are representative of origin.

My own name derives, I think, from Caenid (pronounced Kynith) and Britain’s earliest identified king was the Dane Canute, who was chased out of Scotland, York and London to return to Denmark where he came from.

However, Harold I (his son) defeated the Yorkists at Shepton Mallet and from then onwards the “line” continued.

I think our present Queen would be prepared to verify this, but Elizabeth I is probably her chosen guide to the responsibilities associated with compassionate, but understanding monarchy.

Unless I am completely misinterpreting “lineage” my “caritas” gives me my “character” and my “character” is the part I play in Life’s Theatre.