Blears “supporting faith communities” with government grants
Communities Secretary Hazel Blears today set out how Government envisages working in future alongside the many faith based organisations already making a real difference to their communities.
The Framework for Partnership published today [21 July 2008] outlines new support and £7.5m worth of investment to encourage and enable greater local activity bringing people from different religions and beliefs together. It also reaffirms government support for the valuable work faith groups contribute to delivering services, responding to some of the toughest challenges that society faces.
The National Secular Society’s position (and ours) is:
Public services that are intended for the whole community should be secular. The trend towards handing them over to religious control must be stopped, and the NSS is working to ensure that “faith based welfare” does not impose religious conditions on service provision. We do not want the “soup for prayers” situation that has arisen in the USA to become the norm here, where public services have traditionally been provided by secular local authorities and other public bodies that served all without favour.
After the last budget, the NSS reported:
The Government’s plans to hand over large tracts of welfare provision to the “third sector” (voluntary and charitable groups) means that religious groups will increasingly be funded by taxpayers’ money. In Wednesday’s budget, Gordon Brown confirmed that the Government will establish the largest-ever consultation with charitable organisations, and it will be for this purpose.