Almost £40 million of taxpayers' money paid for lobbying and political campaigning

Embargoed: 00:01 Wednesday 19 February


New analysis from the TaxPayers' Alliance reveals how ministers, officials and quangocrats are wasting taxpayers' cash funding organisations that lobby the government. From 2017-19, organisations that lobby for changes in public policy received at least £39,584,172.

Taxpayer money being used to fund political campaign groups creates a political merry-go-round, whereby the government assigns taxpayer cash to third parties, who then lobby that same government.

The research looks at a snapshot of the most recent publicly available documents, so it is not an exhaustive list of money received by politicised organisations. But it is a collection of key examples to show the scale of public funds offered out, with the actual total likely to be much higher.

Click here to read the research paper

Key Findings

Political research and campaigning organisations known to attack the government or lobby for changes in public policy received £39,584,172 from that same government from 2017-19.


  • Some think-tanks received significant public funding. Between them, the New Economics Foundation, Bright Blue, Demos, the Fabian Society, the Institute for Government and the Institute for Public Policy Research received £518,215 between 2017-18 and 2018-19.

  • The individual think-tank to receive the most taxpayer money in 2018-19 was the Institute for Public Policy Research, who were granted £215,000 from a variety of different public sector sources.

  • The New Economics Foundation, a strongly left-wing think-tank who supported Jeremy Corbyn's calls for economic transformation and are major advocates of radical climate action, received £127,715 of public funding in 2018-19, from a combination of the Greater London Authority and the Economic and Social Research Council.

Policy advocacy

  • Campaign groups the Runnymede Trust and Joint Council for the Welfare of Immmigrants were recipients of public money in 2018-19. Both recently launched campaigns to prevent a home office criminal deportation flight to Jamaica.

  • Rosa, which was given a £978,000 grant in 2017-18, in late 2019 accused the government of “actively selling off our NHS to the US.” They have also regularly argued that Brexit will disproportionately negatively impact women.

  • The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) granted £256,607 to organisations that lobbied for policy changes in 2018-19. One of these, Diverse Cymru, publicly opposed a ‘no-deal’ Brexit in August 2019, having recently been commissioned to create films highlighting refugees’ issues in Wales.

Nanny state

  • Alcohol Change UK, a leading nanny state group which lobbies for tightened alcohol control policies, such as minimum unit pricing, received a total of £185,759 from the Welsh government in 2018-19. Of this total, £40,593 was earmarked for ‘policy and influencing’ and £64,940 was for ‘profile, communications, campaigns and events’.

Click here to see the full list

John O'Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said:

"Taxpayers are sick to the back teeth of being levied to be lectured and lobbied by faceless bureaucrats.

“Quangocrats are awarding funds to yapping Yes Men, empowering certain viewpoints and distorting the decision-making process as they use their privileges to campaign for policy change.

"Government needs to stop funding the lobbying merry-go-round, and instead focus cash on taxpayers’ priorities.”

TPA spokesmen are available for live and pre-recorded broadcast interviews via 07795 084 113 (no texts)
Media contact:

Sam Packer
Media Campaign Manager, TaxPayers' Alliance
[email protected]
24-hour media hotline: 07795 084 113 (no texts)

  1. Founded in 2004 by Matthew Elliott and Andrew Allum, the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) fights to reform taxes, reduce spending and protect taxpayers. Find out more about the TaxPayers' Alliance at

  2. TaxPayers' Alliance's advisory council.

  3. This research is not an exhaustive list of all organisations in receipt of taxpayers' money. It utilises the most recent publicly available data, but in some cases this was not fullsome.
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