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Letter: Shelter can still be indignant

Sir: I was pleased by Andreas Whittam Smith's recognition (article, 2 September) of Shelter's path-breaking role as a campaigning charity in the 1960s, and that the need for Shelter is still as great to tackle the different housing problems of the 1990s.

However, I believe his arguments on the danger of government funding are too cynical and pessimistic. We welcome statutory funding wherever this is consistent with our aims and values. This money - inevitably and properly - comes with conditions that it must only be used for the activities defined in the contract. Yet this does not limit our freedom to use money given by our donors to campaign against government policies which we believe are wrong.

Last week Shelter took the Department of the Environment to the High Court over the withdrawal of housing for asylum seekers. We have campaigned to prevent changes to the homelessness laws which we believe to be damaging. We have strongly and publicly opposed cuts in investment in affordable housing and the withdrawal of benefit payments for both home owners and tenants.

Our experience is that government ministers and civil servants understand that we will not compromise our beliefs - and do not try to use statutory contracts as a lever to control what we say.




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