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Govt scraps campaigning fund, moves money to recession fund

Govt scraps campaigning fund, moves money to recession fund
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Govt scraps campaigning fund, moves money to recession fund

Fundraising | Celina Ribeiro | 13 Nov 2009

A £750,000 fund designed to help small charities campaign has been scrapped today by the minister of the third sector, the money reallocated to the government’s emergency recession fund.

The minister Angela Smith today announced that the money will now go to fund an additional 15 organisations through the Hardship Fund, which the Cabinet Office revealed has been already been almost fully allocated.

Smith said that it had become clear “that our priority at this time has to be to support the third sector during the recession”.

The Campaign Research Programme, announced in April this year, was to fund 30 small charities in their campaigning efforts and monitor how best to support effective campaigning. The charities which had attended interviews for funding will instead be offered campaigning training. The money had been due to be distributed via Capacitybuilders.

While the establishment of the fund had stirred some opposition from within the Conservative Party and think tanks, against the concept of political lobbying by charities, a spokesman for the Cabinet Office said that the closing of the fund was “absolutely not” a reaction to any controversy.

“The Government is completely committed to campaigning, but at this moment the government must focus on the recession,” he said.

In a statement Smith, who has a background in campaigning, reiterated her support for the rights of charities to campaign. “The decision does not alter Government is committed to enabling campaigning in the third sector,” she said.

The abandonment of the fund has attracted the ire of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations. Chief executive of the NCVO Stuart Etherington said that “making this decision at such a late stage has resulted in a complete waste of public funds and time for all involved.”

Etherington added that he was “appalled” by the decision.

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