Funding news

Leather issues 'wake-up call' on delivery of public services - Wednesday 14 February 2007

A stark warning about the dangers of public service delivery, including mission drift, inadequate funding and a potential "Tescoisation" of the sector, will be issued today by Dame Suzi Leather, chair of the Charity Commission.

Her warning is based on a survey of 3,800 charities by the commission, which shows that only 26 per cent of those delivering public services feel free to make decisions without pressure to conform to funders' wishes.

"Of even greater concern, only a fraction above half agree their activities are determined by the charity's mission, rather than funding priorities," Leather will tell NCVO's annual conference.

The survey shows that more than 30 per cent of charities engaged in public service delivery rely on government contracts for 80 per cent or more of their income. This rises to 67 per cent for charities with incomes of more than £10m.

Leather will say her "wake-up call" applies particularly to trustees: "It's trustees who face the consequences if mission drift becomes a breach of trust. For their sake, as well as the sake of the charity, I would urge them to view independence as absolute, non-negotiable and sacrosanct."

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