Tuesday, February 10, 2009

fakecharities.org: we are going to have a lot of work on our hands...

First, a spot of admin: I am still working on getting my new servers up and running. If anyone has any experience of installing a web control panel—such as Web-CP or something similar—onto a fresh Linux server (supplied by Bytemark, as it happens) and would be interested in helping me to sort it out, I'd be immensely grateful—please do drop me an email. Then we can get fakecharities.org back up and running within a couple of hours.

And, fuck me, we are going to need too...

These couple of stories come courtesy of Guido, via email; the first, from Third Sector, concerns the government essentially competing with itself in a complete and utter waste of resources.
The Office of the Third Sector has been accused of wasting money by setting up a new website htat lists funding opportunities for voluntary organisations.

The new site will partly duplicate governmentfunding.org.uk, which is run by the Directory of Social Change and has received government grants of £2.2m since 2003.

The final grant of £152,000 to the existing site is due on 1 April. It will then become self-sustaining through its 30,000 subscribers, of which only large charities pay.

The three-year contract for the new 'third sector funding gateway' is about to be awarded to another organisation, believed to be the NCVO. It will be free to use.

The gateway will have a broader remit than governmentfunding.org and will list non-government grants and contracts as well as government ones.

I need hardly point out, of course, that the Directory of Social Change is, itself, a registered charity, and it has received large amounts of government cash. What a surprise.

What about the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), registered charity number 225922? I wonder, can you guess?
In terms of unrestricted funds, the Office of the Third Sector—Strategic Grant: £1,015,000 out of a total of £1,147,000.

The restricted funds include a good number of private donors, making up a total of £7,480,000. There are, naturally, a few government entities in there too though:
  • Office of the Third Sector (again)—Compact Voice: £207,000.

  • Office of the Third Sector (yet again)—Innovations Work: £49,000.

  • Home Office—Insurance: £110,000.

  • Office of the Third Sector (yes. Again)—National Infrastructure Partnership: £95,000.

So, are they a fake charity? It depends, although they do receive just over 11% of their total funding directly from government agencies (just from a cursory scanning of their accounts).

Anyway, it seems that the government has spent some millions paying a charity to build a website... And now they are going to pay another charity to build another website which largely duplicates the functionality of the first. Except that the first was going to try to recoup some money from some other (no doubt largely government-funded) charities in order to help it stay afloat, whereas the new one won't.


Next up—and in a story which Guido quite rightly points out rather backs up the whole fake charities idea—NuLabour are attacking the Tories for allegedly threatening to cut the Third Sector budget.
Labour has claimed that a Conservative government would "wipe out most of the Office of the Third Sector's budget", jeopardising 2,000 small grants and 400,000 volunteering opportunities.

Cabinet Office minister Liam Byrne made the allegations in a letter to his Tory shadow Francis Maude last week.

Byrne said Tory leader David Cameron's pledge to restrict increases in government spending in all areas except the NHS, schools, defence and international development to 1 per cent would mean £100m less for the Cabinet Office, which has allocated £515m to voluntary sector spending in 2008-11.

"It's hard to see how cuts on this scale could be achieved without significantly wiping out most of the OTS budget, resulting in dramatic withdrawal of funds from the sector," wrote Byrne. "Your proposed cuts would come at the worst possible time, just when the sector needs real help."

The voluntary sector is supposed to be funded through voluntary funds; I get tired of saying this, but there is absolutely nothing voluntary about the state stealing money from workers and then giving it to their own pet lobbying groups charities.

And how have the Tories responded?
Shadow third sector minister Nick Hurd dismissed the claims as "utterly ridiculous".

He said: "This is not grown-up politics. As a senior member of the Government, Liam Byrne should know better. This makes me very angry."

Hurd said the Conservatives would cut public spending faster than Labour, but this did not equate to a reduced flow of money to the sector. "We would bring in new sources of capital that would enable it to stand on its own two feet rather than rely on state aid," he said.

Well, that's all well and good but the chances of that happening in the current climate is approaching zero, is it not? Besides, I thought that Cameron and Co.'s big idea was to throw more money at the voluntary sector in order to get it to do formerly government agency work: anyone else remember that...? Yes? I thought so.
Jonathan Lomax, a director at consultancy Mandate Communications, said: "The Government has had a relatively positive relationship with the third sector and will be keen to foster fear that things would be worse under the Tories."

No shit.
The Government will unveil its third sector action plan shortly. It has been criticised for being slow to help charities in the recession.

Well, well, well: is that so? Not too slow after all, eh?
Ministers will today announce a £40m bailout for charities dealing with the effects of the recession, but the lifeline is a fraction of the sum the government was urged to provide at crisis talks last year.

The money follows job cuts at household names including Shelter and the NSPCC, and amid warnings that one in three charities is expected to lay off more staff in the coming months.

Though campaigners yesterday welcomed the fund, it is less than a tenth of the £500m the charities sought at crisis talks three months ago, and far below their more recent request for £100m to keep vital services alive.

You know, I think that this fake charities meme is going to run and run. And I would just like to end this post with a Letter From A Tory, explaining why the large-scale funding of charities is bad—not just for the taxpayers but also the charities and those that they help.
If charities are to perform their role properly in the absence of government interference, it is essential that they feel no ties to anyone other than the people they help. Giving them taxpayers’ cash is totally incompatible with this aim and crosses the fine line between supporting charities and controlling them. Giving them additional donations may seem like the right thing to do but once this money has been received the operational independence of these charities no longer exists. The sad reality of what you have done is that these charities can no longer claim to be servants of the people because they are now indebted, morally and financially, to the British government.

Quite. Although, in that state, alas, the charities are joined by the entirety of the British people.

As soon as fakecharities.org is back up and running, I shall let you all know...


Anonymous said...

I think you are using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

I've set up dozens of websites using a cheap virtual host in the States. I pay $9 a month for an unlimited number of websites. Up and running in 48 hours.

Get a dedicated server at a later date.

Harry Haddock said...

You have mail, DK

The Filthy Smoker said...

This bail-out beggars belief.

"A government aide said the community resilience fund had been established to support organisations just below the local authority level. It has also found £16.5m to help third sector organisations merge to be able to cope with the downturn. Help the Aged and Age Concern have already done so."

Maybe if Help the Aged weren't spending a fortune on banner adverts to lobby the government to pass the age discrimination bill, it would have some cash left over to actually help the aged. Or does that not fall within their remit?

"Stephen Bubb, chief executive of the association of chief executive officers of voluntary organisations cautiously welcomed the aid: "It's a start, but more is going to be needed as the recession unfolds, and in two or three years, £500m may end up being the total sum."

Fucking boo-hoo. The volunteers need more money! How much does the CEO of the voluntary organisations earn, I wonder?

"Rachael Maskell, Unite’s national officer, community and non-profit sector, called on ministers to give the voluntary sector the same concentrated attention that they were giving to bailing out the financial sector.

She said: ‘When you put this £42m in context, given that voluntary organisations employ more than 600,000 staff and look after the growing, recession-driven needs of millions of people, it is a drop in the ocean."
‘For many charities, the financial situation is bleak. However, ministers have lavished attention and vast sums of money on the bankers who contributed to this financial crisis.’"

Tough. Who yanked this bitch's chain anyway? What has any of this got to do with Unite?

Oh, because the 'charities' are huge employers. "Voluntary organisations employ more than 600,000 staff" - that rather proves the point that they are not voluntary organisations, does it not?

As much as we resent having to bail out the fucking banks, we couldn't let them collapse because they've got all our money. There is no comparison between that, and having to throw millions at these glorified pressure groups. The worst that will happen if these 'charities' lay off staff is that they'll be a few less gobshites on the news.

Janum Moondi said...

And yet - our http://everyoneshome.org.uk group can't even get £8000 to do a better Homelessness statistics and Services directory for the UK../ and the big cross party bullshit "let's end homelessness" wankfest.

http://sheltercrisis.referata.com if anyone's interested.

Homeless Link - the governments preferred comptroller of the Homelessness "sector" creams in a good couple of hundred thousand for doing their Services only signposting directory. Who from? Yep - you guessed it. You.

But the government has never done good IT or any logistical activity really. It is a complete outrage though that they are forcing the voluntary sector to be as rubbish as they are.

Good luck with the site!