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Twenty-five taxpayer-funded groups that should lose their welfare cheques

By Matt Sinclair of The TaxPayers' Alliance.

Yesterday, LeftWatch followed up on its attack on the taxpayer-funded Family and Parenting Institute's intervention in the political debate over whether marriage should be recognised in the tax system.  Ed West, at the Telegraph, has argued that taxpayer funded campaigning 'charities' should have their funding cut.  The new blog asked "What other taxpayer funded charities should lose their welfare cheques?"

Happily, I can report that we've produced a detailed report on this issue at the TaxPayers' Alliance, Taxpayer funded lobbying and political campaigning (PDF), which contains a nice big list of taxpayer funded campaigns to cut.  That report argued that, as well as introducing a law emulating the American restriction on the use of taxpayers' money to hire lobbyists, the Conservatives should cut funding from the following groups, which are primarily political campaigns or pressure groups:

Trade associations
  • The Local Government Association - £14.8 million
  • The NHS Confederation - £7.0 million
  • The Association of Police Authorities - £1.4 million
(These groups do some actual work for the public sector so the figures above are only the membership subscription fees from public sector organisations paying for representation).

Campaigns for health policy and lifestyle changes
  • Alcohol Concern - £515,000
  • Sustain - £380,508
  • National Heart Forum - £315,000
  • Action on Smoking and Health - £191,000
  • Living Streets - £150,000
  • Family Planning Association (fpa) - £130,000
  • Alliance House Foundation and the Institute for Alcohol Studies - £76,236
  • Consensus Action on Salt and Health - £23,500
Environmental campaigns
  • The Sustainable Development Commission - £4.1 million
  • The Forum for the Future - £1.6 million
  • The Campaign for Better Transport (Transport 2000) - £417,210
  • The Climate Group - £186,523
  • Friends of the Earth - £153,994
  • The Green Alliance - £137,120
  • UK Public Health Association - £84,090
  • People and Planet - £73,833
  • Women's Environmental Network - £25,725
  • The Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences - £3,500
Think tanks
  • New Economics Foundation - £601,518
  • Demos - £553,004
  • The Institute for Public Policy Research - £350,330
  • The New Local Government Network - £117,972
There you go, a list of twenty-five groups to get the next Government started.  There is more detail on all of them in the report, including details of how they spent our money.

We'll need to be avoid any accusation of ideological bias though, and while none of our FOIs for the report came back with funding to centre-right groups, it was worrying to see a number of joint fringe meetings organised by centre right think-tanks and taxpayer funded groups in Manchester this year (such joint meetings at party conferences often come with substantial funding attached).  No doubt we'll find out more about that when we repeat this exercise next year.

Taxpayer funded lobbying and political campaigning is undemocratic and distorts decision making in deeply pernicious ways, as we set out in our report.  There is a lot of it going on and, with the public finances tight, it should clearly be cut.