Hinckley charity trustee defends charities challenging Government policies to help those they represent

Mason Moore | Hinckley Reporter | 12 April 2023

A CHARITY TRUSTEE from Hinckley has appeared on national television defending charitable organisations having the right to challenge the Government’s policies.

Peter Cardwell and Mathew Hulbert (Image: TalkTV)

Mathew Hulbert, who is a trustee for several charities in the county, was quizzed on the matter by Peter Cardwell on his TalkTV breakfast show on Saturday, 8 April, after it was revealed that a charity who are campaigning to put a halt to the Government’s Rwanda flights scheme are still receiving a total of £30 million from them directly.

When asked by Peter on his thoughts, Mathew explained that he wouldn’t expect charities to get involved in party politics, or have charity leaders or trustees to say ‘I think we should go and vote this way’, as he thinks it would be ‘unacceptable’.

But, he instead believes that charities have the right to challenge the Government’s policies when they need to, adding: “I think charities would be remiss in their duty if they weren’t properly representing those that they seek to help.”

He then gave an example of a time he and other trustees working for a local charity previously challenged one of the Government policies surrounding LGBT+ refugees.

He explained: “I was the chair of an LGBT+ charity in Leicester for many years. There was only one occasion where we felt strongly enough about an issue of government policy that I was given permission to go on the broadcast media and talk about why the people we represent what being let down by the Government policy.

“It was in regards to LGBT+ asylum seekers and how we felt they will be treated by the government and government policy. We had a number in Leicester that came to use our services and talked about the negative impact that the policy was having on them in their daily lives.

“We, on that occasion, felt strongly enough to think that actually we should go public. The people that donated to our charity were in favour of support and help for LGBT+ people across the board.”

Peter said: “That’s a good example, Mathew, but in terms of asylum when it comes down to this as well in terms of the Rwanda policy, there are charities that have taken a lot of public funds – taxpayer money and government money – and are nonetheless opposing the government. What do you make of that?”

Mathew stayed strong on his opinions, saying: “If government money is only being given to charities if they then abide totally by whatever the government is deciding – whether or not it negatively impacts those they help – that’s surely not good for the democracy either, is it?”

Meanwhile, Tory Commentator, Benedict Spence, chimed in on the debate, saying that he believes it is “perfectly right” for a charity to take a political stance, but he personally “draws the line” at the Government funding charities at all.

He said: “I think it’s perfectly right that a charity would take a political stance. There’s nothing wrong with a charity necessarily endorsing a political party if they have policies that are in line with what that charity believes. Where I draw the line is the idea that government should be funding charity, and I do mean that in any capacity.

“It is not the job of the government to decide that the taxpayer isn’t giving enough to charitable organisations. If the taxpayer wants to do that, they can do that out of their own pocket. You can say that it would be undemocratic to only give money to charities that agree with government, which is why I think that the government shouldn’t give any money to charities but actually, it’s not particularly democratic to then fund the ideological opponents of a government that the people have elected.”

Responding to Spence’s comments, Mathew stated that he thinks charities should be “transparent” in making it known who is funding them, and the reasoning for doing so.

He concluded: “I think charities should absolutely be transparent and we should know who is funding them, and we should know why they’re donating.

“I think they will be being remiss in seeking to represent those they serve if they don’t point out on occasion when they feel that government policy is negatively affecting those that they seek to represent and help.

“I actually think most sensible people in the country would think that’s a pretty sensible position.”

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