Tory charity plan to tackle poverty

Tory charity plan to tackle poverty 

Stuart Macdonald
Regeneration & Renewal

Large charities could be forced to make some of their estimated £34 billion bank reserves available to smaller charities under a future Conservative government.

The idea, which is a bid to deal with problems posed by an ‘ever-growing underclass’, emerged this week in an interim report by former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith into British social problems.

The report blames the ‘collapse of the family’ for social breakdown which, it claims, costs the economy £20 billion each year due to drug and alcohol addiction and spiralling levels of unemployment and crime. Party leader David Cameron has spoken of the importance of marriage to improve family stability and of encouraging it through the use of tax incentives.

Poverty campaigners have welcomed the party’s review through its new Centre for Social Justice, which Duncan Smith heads. But the proposal to force large charities, such as homelessness body Shelter, to allow smaller local charities access to their reserves in order to expand their services to better ‘fight against social breakdown’ drew immediate criticism.

Adam Sampson, director of Shelter, which has an annual turnover of £50 million and maintains a bank balance of between £5m and £7m, said: ‘It is in nobody’s interests if charities spend all their money on service provision and leave themselves open to bankruptcy.’

A further report next year will outline possible Conservative policies to tackle the problems which result in 70 per cent of offenders coming from broken homes and 350,000 children living in households headed by a drug addict.

The number of 15- to 24-year-olds not in employment or education has risen by 15 per cent to 1.24 million since 1997, according to figures obtained by the Tories.

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– Polly Toynbee, social commentator and Guardian columnist

‘It is very important that the Conservatives are thinking about poverty. However, it is a very conservative analysis. Who do they blame for these problems? – the poor. According to (the Conservatives) we don’t need to think about income distribution or education.’

– Adam Sampson, director of homelessness charity Shelter

‘There is no mention of housing in the report – yet housing is a massive issue. Even if everyone was in work and there were no alcohol or drug problems you would still have people with no homes.’

– Kate Green, chief executive of campaign body the Child Poverty Action Group

‘It is right to give more attention to tax credits and the benefits system, but the answer is not to offer tax incentives to just one certain relationship structure.’