Friday, 21 June 2019

Sweet (But uneccesary), charity?

Image result for charity tinsATR's challenge to charity met in social media and you get a history lesson too.  ATR claims charities are a self-perpetuating brake par se on independence for deaf or disabled people and as much the cause as the cure.

#1 I'm going to challenge you on what charity always was.  It wasn't to replace the NHS, which didn't exist, but to replace a lost/destroyed mediaeval welfare state.  Charities were set up as a tax-avoidance scheme under Elizabeth I. Henry VIII is known for whats is now called the 'dissolution of the monasteries'.  The church had been, in effect, the welfare state.  It provided healthcare (or, more realistically, palliative care), homes for destitute (albeit often as nuns/monks), education etc.  What Henry did was to steal most of the land and resources, leaving the population helpless.

People with money also tried to provide for others after their death by 'uses' which were like trusts, bypassing death taxes.  Henry legislated them away but before he died, lawyers invented trusts, which were the same dodge.  Give your money to someone else before you die to look after your family or whoever, and you bypass the death tax.  Elizabeth created the 'charity', using this new 'trust' set-up.  The legislation she signed off on is known as The Statute of Elizabeth, and is, to mix metaphors, her crowning glory.

The original definition of charity, slightly amended in the late C20, was basically where someone or some people did one or more of the things we think of as the welfare state, like the relief of poverty, tending the sick, education etc.  Thus it was an official way for rich people to avoid death tax, which would otherwise have gone to the crown.  It was how Elizabeth and her government and civil servants set up a new welfare state.  Not a good one, far from comprehensive, but nevertheless that was what it was.

It remains the case that a charity is a set up where someone or some people get tax concessions if what they're doing with their money amounts to things that we would, in other contexts, call the welfare state.  Thus Charities and their function as a tax concession (with no requirement to be 'nice') precede the NHS by a few centuries.  And it remains the case that most charities are small and most aren't well known.  Even the not-so-small ones are generally not campaigning charities in the way we know one.

I was a director/trustee for many years of a charity with an annual income the best part of £5million p/a.  It was known in the local area but we weren't asking the man in the street for donations.  We got the money from grants, including the EU, the council, other charities, businesses etc.  We provided schooling for 'disaffected' pupils, nurseries, groups for elders, out of school activities, youth training and activities, a couple of playgrounds, a bit of greenery, place for craft groups etc.  We provided somewhere for people to meet, somewhere for the people no one else could be bothered to help.  Sometimes the most important thing we did was to get people in a deprived area to get what they were entitled to.

The trustees (like me) were unpaid, and we took care over salary ratios.  As we had a school, the CEO, who's been one of those that had set up the charity, was entitled to pay on a national salary scale but had a distinctly lower level of pay at her own request.  I don't disagree with your descriptions as they apply to a relatively small number of well-known charities, but they do not represent the majority of the many thousands of charities in the UK.

More to the point, whilst I agree with you that it is wrong for the welfare state to be destroyed and for people to be expected to rely on charity, I fundamentally disagree with your analysis of what charities are.  I think that your image of them is based on relatively few well-known ones, not on the vast majority of them. Apart from anything else, I would draw a sharp line between what you describe as exec and campaigning levels.  In relation to those charities (which aren't the majority) that campaign, I can see the issue as regards visible disability, although I'm not sure the basis on which you'd say it for invisible disability.  

I'm also very dubious as to whether you've actually got any reliable statistics for executives of charities overall.   I think you've developed a very fixed notion of a charity as a modern thing and as being the sort of charity that just a few, well-known ones are.  As I say, I would agree that there are lots of problems with them, but I disagree that they are representative of charities overall.


There are no two ways about it.  Charity should NOT be a substitute for any state provision, it is the onus on the government and respect for human rights they look after and provide for the most vulnerable of the populace.  Apart from anything else 76% of charities are run by people unqualified to do so, so aren't able to provide the support they claim effectively.  Most are set up by people well-meaning who may well have vulnerable relatives, but that still does not qualify them to provide the right support.  As a result, most fail or there is a mass duplication area by area scrabbling for a cut of the ever decreasing cake to provide the same or similar services as the people in the next county or areas.  National charities you would really struggle to FIND any disabled people leading those or, making the decisions of support or where to supply it.  62% of ALL Charity HQ's are based in London or Southern England.  Anywhere else the queen won't give them a gong.

The charity relies on the goodwill and occasional funding from the government it's just not good or reliable enough to supply the needs of the disabled and vulnerable population, meanwhile, the DWP is taking it all away again.  I confess disappointment disabled are involved with them, I suspect most were fooled by 'Disabled know best how to help other disabled' mantra, this was an image sold to them by the uncaring state, and, we bought it.  So disabled take the blame again when charity doesn't cut it.  The Charity Commission has a 51% government stake thus ensuring our desire to set out what is really needed (which of course costs money), is restricted.  The CC also has no ruling on vetting people wanting to set up a charity not even if those who apply can show an ability to run one, or enough knowledge/ability to provide the services they claim.  A 'good idea at the time' seems to be it.

10 years ago The deaf had 48 charities in the UK all doing the same thing.  They multiplied to 163 today still all claiming to provide the same services.  The national charities of the BDA/AOHL have next to NO deaf members at all.  We deserted them after they pushed out deaf people at exec level and claimed they could not prioritise the deaf grass root or train them up to required levels, because "That would leave our charity open to claims we are discriminating against hearing people..'  I said yes, you mean the 94% of hearing staff who run your charity?  or the 11% of hearing immigrants from the EU eastern bloc you hired? and you paid their visa fees with our money?   At that point I got racist jibes hurtled at me.

The reality is disability support is in excess of a £16B a year plus income, to think for one-minute corporate charities are going to allow us in...  As I said before there is no end game with the charity they need us reliant on them so they can survive, we should be running our own services either as individuals or supervising state support by us for others to ensure we come first.  Charity is dead in its original format and premise now its an area for only corporate professionals to run.  National Charities also defy the reality health and other services are devolved to regions too.  National charities are screwing up regional support.  There is too much money at stake to allow us to do it ourselves, and money is the only thing that really matters.  The rest is a distraction.

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