December 9, 2009
Nick Hurd condemns the Department’s handling of the withdrawal of grant offers without consulting those charities involved beforehand.
Mr. Nick Hurd (Ruislip-Northwood) (Con): In April, the Department launched a programme of grants for small campaigning charities. In October, it sent out grant letters offering the funding. In November, the Minister withdrew the money that had been promised without any consultation. Of course, that has generated real anger in the sector, because with that one decision, the Department that is meant to champion the sector has made a mockery of the compact and has sent out a signal that it is okay for public grant makers to treat charities in that shabby way. I welcome her apology today, but is she really aware of the damage that she has done, and what will she do to repair it?
Angela E. Smith: I suspect that the hon. Gentleman wrote his question before he heard the hon. Member for Cardiff, Central (Jenny Willott) raise this issue. I regret any damage that has been done, because it is important that people understand my commitment to the compact and to voluntary organisations. I refer him to my earlier comments. At this time of recession, and given the comments that have been made to me by organisations up and down the country, the priority had to be given to organisations that deliver services to communities on the front line. Having said that, I deeply regret the concerns that people have raised, and I assure him that my commitment to the compact is strong.