Monday 29 October 2012

Complaint Over Think Tank 'Charity' Sent to Charity Commission

Over the last month Social Investigations has researched the free market think tank, Reform, which to the discredit of the Charity Commission rules, is also a charity. The findings led to the conclusion that a complaint to the Charity Commission was justified under both misleading the public and questioning their political independence.
Reform are important because they dream up policy for selling off our public assets like the NHS and the police and the Conservative party make policy based on their research. Their corporate partners are major global and UK corporations and scooping the financial rewards from the privatisation dreamed up by Reform.

Reform is seen by many organisations on both sides of the political spectrum as being an arm of the Conservative party, everyone recognises this except it would seem, the Charity Commission.

The Research revealed:

·      All the founders are linked to the Conservative party
·      Three out of the five trustees have direct links to the Conservative party
·      There are multiple companies who are Reform’s corporate partners who are linked to Lords and MPs
·      They were involved in lobbying to maintain ‘competition’ in the health and Social Care bill
·      They promote privatisation in all public sector areas
·      They make a claim on their website that is misleading
·      They hold meetings with ministers and corporations where no minutes are held using Chatham House Rules
·      The Conservatives have launched two policies at Reform

The Complaint sent to Charity Commission
Reform Research Trust – Charity Number: 1103739

The complaint against Reform centre on two areas:

·      Misleading the public
·      Political independence

1. Misleading the public

Misleading statement
Reform state on their website: 'We are keen to involve corporate organisations in our research because their expertise is often left out of the Whitehall policy discussion.'

I am providing a selection of files on three companies that are corporate partners to Reform in order to provide evidence that Reform’s statement on their site regarding the above statement is at best misleading and at worst deception.

In addition to the same point above, I am providing a list of the corporate partners with their links to MPs and Lords and a list of what area each company influences government policy.

The companies I have selected are:
·      Aviva
·      BMI Healthcare
·      G4S

I chose three simply because I didn’t want to inundate your organisation with files on all the companies that make up their corporate partners to make the point. The files represent those companies only, although the same would apply to all the other corporate partners and I would be happy to supply more if required.

Reform currently has 31 corporate partners; many of them represent some of the most powerful companies in the UK.

Current members are:  ABI, Aviva, Balfour Beatty, Benenden Healthcare Society, Bevan Brittan, BG Group, BVCA, Cable & Wireless, Capita, CH2M Hill, Clifford Chance, Citigroup, The City of London, Ernst & Young, GlaxoSmithKline, G4S, GE, General Healthcare Group, HP, ICAEW, KPMG, Maximus, McKesson, MSD, Optical Confederation, PA Consulting Group, Serco, Sodexo and Telereal Trillium.

These companies are not left our of Whitehall policy. As the files will show, they are often involved at various levels helping to develop policy.

Many of these companies are financially linked to Lords and MPs from all parties, although largely the Conservatives and in many cases they are in leading positions: Please see File titled Reform MP company links.

In one particular case, the director Andrew Haldenby specifically speaks up for and on behalf of G4S as it mentions in the G4S file.

Reform receives money from donations and sponsorship. Companies often sponsor an event so that they can lobby. The policy that these companies influence ends up creating more wealth for the companies and is not for the charitable aims of delivering economic prosperity to the people it claims to do. Not once in their summary return do they mention promoting privatisation, and yet through their corporate sponsorship, and work, this is exactly what they are doing.

2. Political independence.

The next complaint looks at their political independence.- See links to Conservative party here.

‘The guiding principal of charity law is that charities should be, and be seen to be, independent from party politics.’

Based on the statement above, Reform is not within charity law as their powerbase is almost totally towards the Conservative party.

I have produced a separate file for this titled: ‘Reform links to the right’.

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