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Government departments handed out more than £3million in taxpayer-funded grants to refugee charities and groups who simultaneously campaign against the Government’s own flagship Rwanda deportation scheme. Nine groups received hundreds of thousands of pounds from departments such as the Home Office.
In April last year, Enver Solomon of the Refugee Council wrote a damning letter to the Government accusing the Rwanda asylum scheme of undermining the principles of the Refugee Convention, calling on the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary to scrap the policy.
He said: “We’ve joined 150+ organisations in calling on the Prime Minister and Home Secretary to scrap their unthinkably cruel plans to ship people seeking refuge to Rwanda. Instead, they must create humane and effective solutions to protect refugees.”
New data from the think tank The Taxpayers’ Alliance, however, reveals nine of those organisations took thousands of pounds worth of grants from the same government they described as “unthinkably cruel”.
The Refugee Council, the first signatory on the letter, was awarded £1,596,275 in the 2021/2022 financial year.
Eight other charities also received funding despite vocal opposition to the Government:
- The Medaille Trust, awarded £677,074
- The Pickwell Foundation, awarded £384,704
- Disability Rights UK, awarded £140,346
- Advice NI, awarded £98,000
- Race Equality Foundation, awarded £92,681
- Asylum Welcome, awarded £59,417
- Helen Bamber Foundation, awarded £6,000
- Citizens of the World Choir, awarded £1,500
In total, the Government gave £3,055,997 in taxpayer cash to its own critics.
Responding to the revelations, a Government source told the Daily Express: “We’re all for robust criticism and helping these organisations with funding for their operations.
“We’d just hope they base their criticism on facts, rather than speculation. Something which they haven’t always been concerned about.”
The letter, signed by over 150 refugee organisations, also called on the Government to scrap the Nationality and Borders Bill, which had not passed at the time that the letter was written.
Responding to the data, John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, told the Daily Express: “Taxpayers are fed up of seeing their money propping up controversial campaigns and causes.
“Bureaucrats are giving handouts to activist groups, empowering certain viewpoints and distorting the decision-making process.
“Government needs to stop spending hard-pressed households’ cash on the lobbying merry-go-round, and instead focus funds on taxpayers’ priorities.”
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Rachael Orr, Chair of Trustees at the Refugee Council told the Express: “Like many charities, one of our primary purposes is to advocate for our beneficiaries – refugees and people seeking asylum.
“We use our expertise and knowledge gained from the delivery of our services to constructively engage and challenge the Government to take action to improve the lives of refugees which is in line with our charitable objects and purpose.
“As set out by the Charity Commission any charity, including the Refugee Council, has a right to lawfully campaign based on the cause it is entrusted with.”
The Express contacted all charities named for comment.
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