George Osborne brands charities 'anti-business'

Chancellor urged business leaders to 'raise their heads above the parapet' to defend economic prosperity

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The Independent Online

George Osborne has urged business leaders to put their heads “above the parapet” and argue against charities’ “anti-business views”.

Speaking at the annual convention of the Institute of Directors in London, the Chancellor said businesses needed to pro-actively defend the economy from charities and others who he claimed were making arguments against the free market and economic prosperity.

“You have to get out there and put the business argument, because there are plenty of pressure groups, plenty of trade unions and plenty of charities and the like, that will put the counter view.

“It is, I know, a difficult decision sometimes to put your head above the parapet, but that is the only way we are going to win this argument for an enterprising, business, low-tax economy that delivers prosperity for the people and generations to come.

“There is a big argument in our country … about our future, about whether we are a country that is for business, for enterprise, for the free market.”

Nick Bryer, head of Oxfam’s UK campaigns and policy, rejected the notion charities were anti-business in remarks to the Guardian.

“We don’t recognise the divide he draws between the concerns of businesses and charities,” he said.

Mr Bryer added: “It is vital to tackling poverty around the world, which is why we help poor people set up their own businesses and access markets”.

The chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations Sir Stuart Etherington said people should welcome relationships between charitable ventures and business ones.

“The days when charities and businesses were enemies are long gone,” he said.

“Charities will always speak up for the people and causes they work for, but many are also working with businesses to find solutions to society’s problems together.”

Mr Osborne did not name any charities during his speech, but his remarks can be seen as indication many MPs feel charity organisations are too politically motivated.

Last month former civil society minister Brooks Newman said charities should “stick to their knitting”.