The coming war on charity?

This may be a case of my drawing connections between things which are unconnected. Nonetheless, I keep noticing evidence (confirmation bias at work?) of a growing hostility towards charities in the UK. Those ‘greedy’ charity shops, with their greedy executives, scaremongering, political bias and radicalism. My claim here is entirely impressionistic but I’m sure I can see the potential consolidation of a discourse, already existing in a fragmented form, which amalgamates a hostility towards bureaucracy and a skepticism towards moral claims into a pervasive distrust of charities: “why give to charity? they’re just giving the money to bosses who are more interested in imposing their views on other people than they are on really helping anyone”. Given the direction of socio-economic change in Britain over the last few years, it seems crucial to recognise this change in status for charities if it is taking place. Nick Cohen addresses this issue (sort of) in his article today:

Ministers will not confess to making a mistake for fear of damaging their careers. But it is not only their reputations but an entire world view that is at stake. Put bluntly, the Conservatives hope to scrape the 2015 election by convincing a large enough minority that welfare scroungers are stealing their money. They cannot admit that a real fear of hunger afflicts hundreds of thousands. Hence, Lord Freud, the government’s adviser on welfare reform, had to explain away food banks by saying: “There is an almost infinite demand for a free good.”

My visit to the food bank showed that our leaders’ ignorance has become a deliberate refusal to face a social crisis. Of course, the volunteers help working families and students as well as the unemployed and pensioners. Everyone apart from ministers knows about in-work poverty. As preposterous is the Tory notion that the banks are filled with freeloaders.

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