Charities and other organisations will not be allowed to use Department for Communities and Local Government grants to lobby Parliament, government or political parties, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said last week.
In a statement published on gov.uk, Pickles said that using taxpayers’ funds to lobby government wastes public money and undermines transparency.
DCLG said organisations granted funds are still allowed to use their own funds for lobbying activities, if they are transparent about it.
However Neil Cleeveley, chief executive at local infrastructure body Navca, said that Pickles’ view of charities was unfair.
“I think this side-swipe at charities is uncalled-for and best viewed in the context of the imminent general election,” he said. “Most charities speak up not for themselves but for people who are frequently ignored by politicians.”
First no-lobbying clauses
The Department is the first to introduce a no-lobbying clause in all grant agreements.
Pickles said the move came after a small number of local enterprise partnerships were found to be hiring public affairs consultancies to lobby the government and parliament on their behalf.
He also cited The Sock Doctrine, a report by a free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), which said charities often use grants to lobby the government for more money.
Pickles said: “If external groups are lucky enough to receive grants or win contracts with taxpayers’ money, it shouldn’t be spent on lobbying for more taxpayers’ money or more red tape.
“There’s nothing wrong with private organisations using their own money to hire commercial firms for advice, provided it’s done in an open and transparent manner,” he added.