chapter
6 Pages

Introduction

Poverty and charity have an unequal relationship. Asymmetries of scale and values have ensured the persistence of the former despite millennia of the latter. For at least the past four centuries charity law has provided a frame of reference for channelling charitable activity towards the alleviation of poverty in particular and issues of social inclusion in general but it is no longer the primary frame of reference for doing so, nor indeed has charity law ever been exclusively concerned with such matters. Only good government can invest public resources on the scale necessary to ensure that safety nets catch the vulnerable and the marginalized. Moreover, charity law does not function in isolation. Social justice, human rights and other perspectives are also clearly relevant while the benefits of charity are as always left to fall in accordance with the whim of donors. So a sense of perspective is needed when considering the role of charity in relation to poverty and social inclusion.