Case-work and Public Policy:

There had long been a small but strong minority in the Society which chafed against its "unpopularity", which loomed in their eyes as a sort of nightmare, hindering the work and causing unnecessary vexation of spirit. ... they were influenced by the way in which the "Guild of Help" had caught on, and they thought the Charity Organisation Society should be prepared to modify its atitude with a view to exercising a similar atrractive power to the public. Two main remedies were suggested, the abandonment of the name of the Society, and "a silent Council". ... the Council was cease from giving its opinion on questions of public policy, at any rate when that opinion was counter to popular feeling [SW 94-95]*.

* Samual Barnett referred in this point. A few witness of the Committee of 1907, including Samuel Barnett, suggested that the COS's view of the relationship between charity and the state and its opposition to a larger role for the stae was obsolate and repellent to those who wanted to take a more constructive civic interest, and asked that the Council of the Society keep quiet about social policy issues [Report of the Special Committee on the Organisation and Methods of the Society, 25 October 1909; L 76].
Annual Report for 1908-1909:

The extremists urged that the Society should have no policy on the larger soial and administrative questions that come before those engaged in voluntary work. Questions of detail in case-work it might settle. It should aim at mere co-operation, and for the rest the members of the Committees of the Society and its officials should be free to adopt any general line of policy they thought fit; and, again, the question of unpopularity was pressed. On the other hand, many who had been making their way against the stream of public opinion and had adovocated the policy and principles of the Society with steadfastness and a full sense of responsibility were not at all in favour of this general abjuration. Thus the question turned on the continued acceptance by the Society of the principle of independence and the policy which it entailed, 'namely, the policy that people should support themselves by their own earnings and efforts, and that they should depend as little as possible on the State.

This first course is to give up the principle. That would seem to be equivalent to giving up the Society. All or bery large part of the work that is done for the individual case---inquiry, personal visiting, and care---has for its object the restoration of the family, as far as that be possible, to an independent way of living. The Society's object is the improvement of the condition of the poor, and to a very large extent growth in independence is evidence of an improvement in conditions ...

As to the second course, it is plain that we cannot reasonably apply a principle to individual cases which we shrink from applying to general issues. The importance of these general issues largely exceed the importance of the issues in individual cases. Unless we believe that the principle is applicable to the wider conditions of the general status of the people, we can hardly apply it to the individual alone.

The third course is that at present adopted, to retain the principle, and to apply it both to individual cases and to public issues. If State or other intervention is poroposed, the question from this point of view at once arises, whether the intervention will ultimately promote independence. If the answer to this is in the negative, then, acccording to the best of their judgment, the Council and the Society have, we think, no alternative but to say so, if they pronounce an opinion at all. Of course it is open to them to suggest and to promote other measures that may meet the difficulty that has led to the proposals that have been made in some other, and in their opinion more effectual manner. We fully sympathise in the view that the statement of the position of the Society, whether in regard to the opposition which it offers to proposals or in regard to the opposition which it offers to proposals or in regard to the alternatives which it may accept in the place of them, should be expressed in such a way as to show the earnest desire of the Society to alter or remove conditions which involve want and misery and suffering ... But it should be understood that unless the Council are to give up the duty, which they have hitherto undertaken, of stating their views on questions that affect their province of work, there cannot but be amongst manu of those whose goodwill they value a certain divergence of feeling and sympathy, coupled with a corresponding divergence of thought and opinion. Like other bodies, the Council may well have a right and a left wing, and the questions submitted to them may well be discussed by each side and decided in peace and amity, though on some aspects of social policy members may hold divergent views. The Society, we think, must be prepared to cope with considerable differences of opinion and to solve those differences by discussion, There is no other way.

[SW 95-97]