Why does the government give public money to charities?
N.B. This post is not aimed specifically at the Kids Company charity. I use it as an example because it is in the news at the time of writing.
The Kids Company charity closed within a few days of being given a £3 million grant of taxpayers money, most of which will probably not be recovered back into the public purse.
The question arises: why does the government use public money to support a charity, weather it be the one I cited, or any other for that matter?
My understanding of a charity is that it is a ‘good’ cause and that its money should come from its own fundraising efforts. Those fundraising efforts usually seek money from individual members of the public, from wealthy philanthropists, from business and other organisations.
Money raised from these sources is entirely discretionary from the donor, who actively chooses to support, or not, a specific charitable cause.
Public money, distributed by the government, does not give any degree of choice to the public whose money it is, only to a handful of people in the government of the day.
If a charity does work that the government deems necessary, so choses to finance it to some degree with public money, by implication it is a service needed for the good of the public who gave that money in their tax. If that is so, the question arises if the work should be budgeted for and funded directly with taxpayer money, as a government department or contract, and not therefore hold charitable status?