chapter  5
27 Pages

The ‘public benefit’ test and social inclusion: the roles of government and charity in a common law context

This chapter begins by examining the common law origins of the public benefit test in the Preamble, its enduring but equivocal association with poverty and public utility and its resulting usefulness as a means of differentiating between the roles of charity and government. It does so from the perspective of developments in the UK, or, more accurately, as these have unfolded in England and Wales. The chapter then considers the record of charities and government as service providers in relation to the socially disadvantaged, analysing the impact of the Welfare State and the consequent adjustment to their respective roles. It outlines the emergence of the modern relationship between government, charities and the public benefit, noting the importance of the ‘contract culture’ phenomenon. The chapter concludes by considering a crucial component for the future development of this relationship: the role of the Charity Commissioners as determinant of partnership arrangements in practice between government and charity in public service provision.