Charity criticised over Conservative manifesto

Image caption, The commission said concerns had been raised about the charity's contribution to the manifesto

A charity run by a Conservative peer has been criticised by a watchdog for seeming to endorse a political party.

Tomorrow's People chief executive Debbie Scott, now Baroness Stedman-Scott, featured in the Tory manifesto even though by law charities are not allowed to support political parties.

A Charity Commission report said appearing in the manifesto "called the charity's independence into question".

The employment charity said it accepted the commission's findings.

Baroness Stedman-Scott was featured in a full page photograph in the Conservative general election manifesto.

The Charity Commission published a report into concerns raised about the involvement of Tomorrow's People in the political publication.

'Public confidence'

The report said: "The charity's contribution to the manifesto of a political party issued at the time of the general election raised concerns that the charity may have or may have been seen as endorsing the political party.

"Support for a political party is not permitted under charity law, and as such this issue has the potential to impact not just on the work and reputation of the charity, but also on public trust and confidence in charities generally."

It added: "Appearing in the party's manifesto called the charity's independence into question because it can be seen to be an endorsement of the wider policies of the party and consequently the party itself."

The commission said the charity's trustees had accepted its conclusions and the guidance given to them about their legal and regulatory responsibilities.

In the report, the commission reminded other charities that they must "remain independent from party politics and cannot give support to a political party, politician or candidate".

It said: "During an election period, the need for impartiality and balance is intensified, and charities must take particular care when undertaking any activities in the political arena to ensure that the charity's independence is maintained."

Tomorrow's People said it was pleased that the commission recognised "that in agreeing to contribute to the manifesto, it was not the charity's intention to provide or encourage support for the party."

A statement said: "Tomorrow's People accepts the Charity Commission's position on this matter and has since put in place more robust processes to ensure that the charity meets the requirements of the commission's guidelines going forward."

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