…belief in restoring people to ‘self-respect and self-support’ has led compassionate conservatives to reject the de-humanising ‘feed-and-forget’ philosophy that has come to characterises the welfare state’s attitude to its dependent clients. Compassionate conservatives want to see ‘help-to-change’ charities becoming an increasing feature of society’s response to poverty.
Compassionate conservatives are then faced with something of a dilemma.
They want ‘help-to-change’ charities to receive more resources but they fear that they will lose their salty distinctiveness if they become too close to government. The most dynamic charities have always feared becoming dependent on a funding stream that is controlled by a bureaucracy. Experience teaches that the money may come with few strings in the first year but by years three, four and five, the conditions have begun to re-shape the charity’s original mission. Catholic Chareities USA is held up as an example of a religious charity that has become little more than a ‘government programme wearing a clerical collar’.
This is from Whatever happened to compassionate conservatism? by Tim Montgomerie, published by the Centre for Social Justice.
The corruption of charities by the state is something that has happened in a big way in Britain. The state originally was going to fund church schools but leave them pretty independent. That independence has since been so thoroughly eroded that there is not much left. Charitable hospitals were simply expropriated by the state in 1948. The King’s Fund was meant to fund charitable hospitals. But after the charitable hospitals were taken over by the state, the King’s Fund became a think-tank for the NHS. It receives government funding and generally takes a pro-NHS line. An organisation that was meant to fund charitable hospitals, now does not do so. I know of no reason why it should not, even now, help to establish and then support charitable hospitals.
Tim Montgomerie edits his own website now called conservativehome.com.