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By Harry Phibbs
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Only an hour after the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, finishing his Party Conference speech, the BBC was reporting on it being attacked by charities. This is a familiar pattern. Usually the more partisan and outspoken the attack, the greater the likelihood that the "charity" involved is largely state funded:
Here is today's example:
Rhian Beynon, head of policy and campaigns at the charity Family Action says the chancellor is "scraping the barrel for cuts that do not make good economic sense". Taking away housing benefit from the under-25s "will make it even more difficult for hard pressed young people to find employment and move on", she says. "It is not the answer."
Sure enough, a look at Family Action's latest accounts shows that an overwhelming £18.2 million of their £22.1 million income comes from "statutory sources." They have 715 employees.
Its annual report is quite brazen in stressing the priority it gives to spinning and lobbying:
This has been an area of enormous success over the past year. We have invested in the Policy and Campaigns activities and as a result we have been able to increase our PR and media activity.
Effectively Family Action is a branch of the state. It may be that sometimes local authorities find it good value money if they contract out social work to it. It would seem unlikely given that the charity adds layers of costs with press officers and "policy and campaigns" staff. But it is always possible, given the level of municipal inefficiency.
What is scandalous is that charity law is so lax that it allows charities to devote their resources to political propaganda.
It is not as if Family Action are the only offenders. The state funded Child Poverty Action Group was also quick off the mark once Mr Osborne had sat down. Christopher Snowdon has shown that the problem is widespread. The Labour Party can sit back while their work is done for them.