MPs Split on Whether Charities Should Challenge Government, Study Shows

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25th September 2014 11:00 - Voluntary

A recent study has shown political divide when it comes to whether or not charities should be allowed to challenge the government and political parties.

The survey, which questioned 154 MPs, discovered that around two fifths of Conservative MPs think it is acceptable for charities to challenge the policies of the government, compared to the 39% who said it was unacceptable.

Furthermore, just less than two fifths (37%) of Conservative MPs felt that charities should be able to challenge the policies of political parties, with almost half (46%) opposing this idea. When asked the same question for state-funded charities, just one sixth (16%) were in favour of them challenging political parties’ policies, compared to the seven in 10 (71%) who were against it.

In contrast, almost nine in 10 (86%) Labour MPs were in favour of charities challenging the government and political parties, with around three quarters (73%) supporting the idea of state-funded charities challenging the government too.

The survey’s findings highlighted that MPs were much more comfortable with charities getting involved by holding parliamentary receptions - 91% of Conservative participants and 89% of Labour respondents were in favour of this.

And, finally, the majority of MPs said they were happy with charities highlighting the effects of a policy on their beneficiaries. However, Labour MPs (86%) were around one fifth more likely to support this that Conservative MPs (68%).

Tim Harrison, nfpsynergy’s Head of Professional Audiences, said: “Although Labour MPs are unsurprisingly very supportive when in Opposition, there is a fine line that Conservative MPs do not want to see charities cross. Any sight of challenging government policy or entering party politics is not acceptable to them.

“These are the rather narrow confines within which charities must operate when interacting with the current coalition government. It again highlights the need for neutral, evidence-based campaigns that can be shown to be based on fact, not politics.”

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