Embargoed: 00:01 Monday 16 January 2023
The TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) has revealed that public bodies continue to hand over £1,221,222 per year to lobby group Stonewall, despite government departments being told to withdraw from the controversial Diversity Champions scheme.
Membership of the scheme cost taxpayers at least £709,225 in 2021-22, with 234 public organisations paying subscriptions. This was down from 327 between 2018-19 and 2020-21. While some public bodies - including most police forces, Companies House and the Museum of London - have left the scheme, 175 bodies admitted to remaining as members. As foreign secretary, Liz Truss pushed for all government departments to leave in May 2021. In spite of this, the FCDO membership was renewed for another year from October 2021, and DEFRA currently remain members.
Alongside the Diversity Champions scheme, taxpayers’ money was also used to attend conferences, events and training programmes, at a total cost of £108,602. One of the most attended events was the Stonewall Workplace conference in March 2022.
Separately, funds were also given in the form of grants, which came to £403,395 from public bodies in 2021-22. This was a reduction from previous years. The devolved governments were the largest grant givers, with the Welsh Government giving £168,870 and the Scottish Government handing over £99,917.
The TaxPayers’ Alliance is calling for an end to the practice of taxpayer-funded lobbying, so that public money is not being used to distort political decision making and savings can be made.
- Taxpayer support of Stonewall in 2021-22 was at least £1,221,222. That includes £709,225 from Diversity Champions, alongside £108,602 from conferences, events and training programmes and supplemented with £403,395 from grant income.
- 234 public sector organisations gave money to Stonewall via the Diversity Champions scheme, conferences, events and training programmes. In the preceding three years, at least 327 public sector organisations gave to the same scheme and programmes.
- At least 175 public bodies are still members of the Diversity Champions scheme.
- Separately, public bodies also gave grants to Stonewall. In 2021-22, this totalled £426,390. The Welsh and Scottish governments gave the highest amount of any public bodies, at £168,870 and £99,917, respectively.
- The public sector body that generated the most non-grant revenue for Stonewall was King’s College London, at £15,930. This included a £6,000 membership fee for Diversity Champions, with the rest spent on training and conferences.
- Quangos including Companies House, the Competition and Markets Authority and the Museum of London were previously members but no longer are.
Duncan Simpson of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said:
“Taxpayers should not be subsidising controversial campaigners.
“Some public bodies continue to prop up pressure groups like Stonewall with taxpayers’ cash, despite ministers urging against it and budgets facing a serious squeeze.
“Withdrawing from unnecessary schemes and cutting gratuitous grants are obvious ways that savings can be found.”
TPA spokespeople are available for live and pre-recorded broadcast interviews via 07795 084 113 (no texts)
Managing Director, TaxPayers' Alliance
24-hour media hotline: 07795 084 113 (no texts)
Notes to editors:
Founded in 2004 by Matthew Elliott and Andrew Allum, the TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA) campaigns to reform taxes and public services, cut waste and speak up for British taxpayers. Find out more at www.taxpayersalliance.com.
TaxPayers' Alliance's advisory council.
- The TaxPayers’ Alliance previously found a total of 327 public bodies were paying into Stonewall's Diversity Champions scheme.