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Cheers - AE

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Charidee and warble gloaming.

Over at Watts Up With That there's a post about a particularly giggleworthy piece of research that seems to claim it show's how networks of climate sceptics operate, whatever the fuck that's supposed to mean. Apparently it's not yet out, but a site called Left Foot Forward say they've had a goosey at it and it's giving them all wood. I've got nothing to add to what's already been said at WUWT apart from a comment on the point that Oxfam funded the study, to which Anthony Watts says:
It’s funny how somebody can write a social networking study and not ask the subjects being studied any questions. Quality research funded by charitably given British pounds - surely they could do better.
Because this fits in so well with the government agenda on warble gloaming I immediately wondered if government tax money has been sent Oxfam's way. seems to be down at the moment so I couldn't check there to see if Oxfam have been looked at, so I went to the Charity Commision site and looked at the accounts myself.

First thing to notice, and I don't know enough about charity accounts submissions to say if this is iffy or not, is that the most recent accounts available are for the 2007/08 financial year. Being as we're very nearly at the end of the 09/10 year this surprised me slightly, but never mind. Let's have a look at what is there. First off on page 17 there's a nice pie chart for Oxfam's income under the heading 'Oxfam 2007/08: Where the money comes from and where it goes'. That pie chart gives the following amounts for income.
  • Trading sales of donated goods - £65.7m
  • Trading sales of purchased goods - £12.0m
  • Income from govt & other public authorities - £70.1m
  • Donations & legacies - £103.6m
  • DFID-Partnership Programme Agreement - £10.4m
  • DEC appeal income - £19.5m
  • Gifts in kind - £8.6m
  • Other - £9.8m
£80.5 million of the total of £299.7 million - just over a quarter of Oxfam UK's income - came from the taxpayer. Nice, eh? Does that qualify them for fake charity status? I dunno, and it's only fair to point out that more than half their income comes either from money that is donated voluntarily or from flogging stuff that is donated voluntarily. Still, more than 25% came from the British taxpayer whether individual taxpayers support the work of Oxfam or not, and for those who are sceptical both of the warble gloaming theories and the way that Oxfam jumped on that bandwagon that 25% might not sit that well. It fucking wouldn't me, I'll tell you that for nothing. As I said in the comments at WUWT:
I’m no longer a UK tax payer but it still boils my **** when I see a so-called charity getting a large proportion of its income from money taken from taxpayers at the point of a virtual gun (it becomes a literal one if you resist paying strongly enough). Often the agendas of these ‘charities’ parallel those of the government, so there’s often a cycle of lobbying the government (with taxpayers’ money given by the government) in order to persuade the government to do what it probably intends to do anyway (or why else the bunce?) but might fly better with voters if they can point to pressure from all these altruistic types in the so-called charities.

In short whatever this research cost it’d be fair to say that the British taxpayer coughed up for a good chunk of it. Yeah, money well spent… not.
But there's one final point. Going back to the 07/08 Oxfam accounts it said there was more detail in the Statement of Financial Activity, which I found starting from page 27. The Summary Income and Expenditure Account on page 28 was interesting since it should duplicate the income details on the earlier pie chart. What it says is this:
  • Voluntary income - £142.1m
  • Activities for generating funds - £77.7m
  • Investment Income - £3.6m
  • Resources from government, other public authorities - £70.1m
  • Primary purpose trading - £1.4m
  • Other income - £4.8m
  • Total Income - £299.7m
Now that's not quite the same as the pie chart. Going from the bottom the 'Other Income' figures differ by £5 million, so I assume that to get the £9.8 of the pie chart you have to add the Income Investment and Primary Purpose Trading to the £4.8m above. Similarly the pie chart figures for sales of donated and purchased goods were £65.7m and £12.0m respectively, which make the £77.7m listed above as 'Activites for generating funds'. The government money is £70.1m in both sets of figures, apart from that £10.5m from the Department for International Development. Where did that go? Finally, looking at the pie chart totals again the sums for donations, legacies, gifts and the DEC appeal almost add up to the £142.1m listed above for 'Voluntary income'. Almost. It's £10.5m short, which oddly enough is the amount they were supposed to have got from the DFID-Partnership Programme Agreement.

So I'm wondering. If it's from the DFID in what way is £10.5m a voluntary donation? Did they get it from voluntary sources because they were in the programme? Apparently not since in the attached notes they specifically say £10.4m (let 'em off for rounding I suppose) from 'UK government: Department for International Development - Partnership Programme Agreement'. That makes it look like government money, so how the hell can they call it voluntary? Surely it's not because the fucking DFID didn't have to give them money but nudge-nudge wink-wink gave it to them.

Personally I think that's dodgy as hell. It might be legit, I wouldn't know and couldn't care. It still stinks. Bad enough that every UK taxpayer has to contribute whether they want to or not, but they need to be battered with dictionaries until the meaning of voluntary sinks in.

When they knock on your door, just tell 'em you gave already.
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