Controversial charity Stonewall has received £1.25 million in taxpayer-funded grants in the past 18 months, with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office as its largest donor.
Cash handouts to the LGBT charity from the Government and public bodies increased by more than 67 per cent from their previous set of accounts, with the Foreign Office alone handing over more than £750,000 in 2020-21.
Despite the increase, Stonewall calculated it had lost more than half a million pounds in annual income overall, amid an exodus of government departments, universities and major public bodies from its diversity training programmes.
The news comes despite the charity’s value for money being called into question by Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, who urged departments to quit its diversity training programme.
As well as being the charity’s biggest individual provider of grants, it is understood that the Foreign Office also remains a member of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme.
The grants are on top of more than a million pounds a year that the charity has been receiving from public bodies for membership of the programme.
Income from charitable activities: Grants
The accounts to March 2021, which cover a period of 18 months, show that the charity received £1,249,363 in grants from public bodies. This is a near-67 per cent increase on the £748,295 they received in their previous accounts, which covered 12 months from to September 2019.
Taxpayer-funded bodies accounted for more than 52 per cent of the total grants. The Foreign Office’s contribution of £765,061 was more than five times the £145,075 that the department provided the year before.
In a recent answer to a Parliamentary question, Wendy Morton, a foreign minister at the time, said that the department had given funding for projects including co-chairing the Equal Rights Coalition, the Commonwealth Equality Project and for “Defending the rights of LGBT people in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus”.
The Welsh and Scottish Governments also handed over hundreds of thousands of pounds, whilst NHS Scotland provided a grant of almost £50,000.
The Government Equalities Office, also headed by Ms Truss, began funding Stonewall in the 18 months to March 31 2021, giving the organisation £50,393.
On top of the grants, the charity also received £616,225 from the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
The Department for Education did not provide any grants in the 18 months, despite providing almost £300,000 the year before.
The embattled charity has had a string of high-profile exits from its controversial Diversity Champions scheme in the past year.
These included the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the BBC, Ofcom, Ofsted, Channel 4, the House of Commons, the Cabinet Office, Ministry of Justice, and the Department of Health and Social Care. Many, such as the BBC, left citing concerns about impartiality or value for money.
The charity said its income had dropped £617,000 when calculated as an annual figure. Over the account period, its deficit grew by more than £400,000 to £1.2 million.
Income from programmes, including its Trans Ally and LGBT Role Model workshops, dropped by more than £100,000 to £536,900.
Overall, the charity’s total income increased from £8.3 million to £11.5 million with the extended reporting period, but total funds decreased from £4 million to £2.8 million.
Duncan Simpson, the research director at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Taxpayers are fed up with public bodies giving evermore grants to controversial campaigners. After years of handing over millions, some officials seem determined to prop up pressure groups like Stonewall with taxpayers’ cash, despite ministers urging against it.
“Ministers must put a stop to these grants and schemes immediately.”
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “The FCDO [Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office] provides funding to Stonewall to defend the human rights of LGBT+ people around the world, with programmes that tackle discrimination and hate crime running across Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America. Most recently, this included work to evacuate LGBT+ people from Afghanistan under threat from the Taliban.”