Housing associations have been criticised for failing to be open and transparent about their sources of funding.

A report by the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) has stated that many major charities are "keeping their accounts from the public" and "refusing to admit who funds them".

Registered social housing providers were among those to be singled out for a lack of transparency.

The CPS has therefore called for large charities to disclose their funding sources "for the sake of democratic accountability".

Figures from the organisation show that public money accounts for 24 per cent of large charities' funding.

However, the CPS believes that the true figure could be closer to 49 per cent, since many groups receive more public money than they disclose.

William Norton, author of the report, argued that if public money is supporting charities to a "considerable extent", taxpayers are entitled to "know that and know it directly from the charities".

He went on to stress that if public money accounts for a large share of their income, they are ultimately "dependent upon someone having made a political decision in their favour".

Mr Norton said this means their existing arrangements are far from secure, as political decisions may change, especially when the "public finances are under considerable pressure".

He added that the dependence on public funds is blurring the line between the public and private sectors.

Indeed, Mr Norton said it raises questions as to when an organisation ceases to be a private body, as well as whether or not it stops being a charity.

Louise Leaver, a partner at Winckworth Sherwood, commented: “The distinction between public and private bodies is one that has often troubled the politicians in determining the extent and level of support to offer housing associations, however decreased reliance on grant and increased reliance on private finance and other sources of income should be clear and apparent from most housing association’s balance sheets.”