Charity giants take over

The national voluntary societies do much valuable work, but Judy Hirst is right ("Now charity is running the country", 19 June) to identify the drawbacks associated with their collusion with government and their massive growth.

She neglects, however, to point out the detrimental effect that the big voluntaries are having on small, locally run projects in deprived areas. The enormous contracts awarded by local authorities to the national societies are often accompanied by cuts in grants to smaller bodies. Again, the charity giants with their professional fundraisers have an enormous advantage in winning huge sums from the National Lottery. Typically, the Millennium Promise campaign, organised by big business, resulted in millions going to the already rich charities, with a few crumbs thrown indirectly at projects run by low-income citizens.

Bob Holman

This article first appeared in the 26 June 2000 issue of the New Statesman, We made the people-smugglers rich