TDB EXCLUSIVE: Alan Johnson – The horrific truth about Bill English’s State Housing Privatisation
The complicity of NGOs
There are NGOs and then there are NGOs. Rather than being defined by what they aren’t so-called non-government organisations might be best defined by where they get their money from.
There are NGOs which get their money from members or supporters – these groups are often caused based such as CPAG is or they provide services to members such with RSA or sports clubs.
Then there are NGO’s which get their money from providing services to others most often through Government contracts. These include charitable trusts, non-profit companies and incorporated societies – large and small, local and national and they provide the bulk of social services on behalf of the Government.
Superficially this is an ideal marriage. Well intended well motivated folk in cause driven organisations delivering social services to the poor and vulnerable with the financial backing of the State. But the organisations involved in such programmes are hardly NGOs because without the Government’s money they are unlikely to exist – certainly at the scope and scale they do now. As well the delivery of social services on behalf of the State is always driven by clear policy objectives and these are in turn driven by clear ideological ambitions. This means of course that the NGOs involved in contracts with the State are complicit – wittingly or unwittingly in these ideological ambitions.
Such complicity is fine as long as the ideological ambitions of the Government roughly align to the interests of the poor and vulnerable. But if – as appears the case with the present Government’s welfare and social housing reform agendas, this is not the case, the so-called NGOs which are keen to partner with the Government cannot entirely claim to be benignly serving the interests of the poor and vulnerable. They are in fact serving the ideological ambitions of the Government while ignoring the longer-term interests of those they claim to be serving.
Nowhere is this complicity more apparent than in housing.