Tuesday, 7 April 2009

The Mayor's Fund for London opens with a whimper

Boris Johnson on the Mayor's Fund in April 2008:

"The Mayor's Fund for London will be a streamlined vehicle for getting money from the wealth-creating sector to communities across London that are facing hardship and deprivation, and are the victims of crime."

Boris Johnson on the Mayor's Fund in April 2009:

"The Fund has already attracted considerable support from donors. It will spend £1.5m in 2009..."

Now that's what I call streamlining.

The Mayor's Fund for Shoreditch?

The Mayor's Fund for London aims to spend £9.5 million on alleviating child poverty by the end of 2010 and to turnover £20 million a year by 2013.

However, with it's original banker head now in exile, Boris has been forced to concede that there is still "not an awful lot" in the pot

In fact after ten months of pressing the flesh, Boris now admits that he has raised less than five million pounds, from those London bankers he urged to "palliate their guilt."
The lack of donations has been reflected by the initial £1.5 million programme which will centre on Shoreditch rather than the capital at large.

The survival of the planned future programmes to help '600,000 children' will be dependent on a huge upturn in donations, an unlikely goal in a growing recession.

And with existing charities already scrabbling for their share of the pot, it is hardly a great start for this new charity on the block.

Following on from Chris's question in the comments, Lib Dem Assembly Member Mike Tuffrey said today:
“I hope that this new charity is successful over the next few years.

“However we should not pretend this is just an ordinary charity. The Mayor must take steps to avoid the inevitable accusation that some donors are seeking to influence or win favour with him.

“I urge the Mayor to ensure that all donations of £1,000 or more are formally declared and open to public inspection. Large donations that are not publicly declared will generate controversy and in the long term harm the reputation of the charity.

"Secret millionaires may make great TV but have no place in London government.

“If the Mayor is keen to ensure the charity flourishes he should ensure it operates to the highest standards of transparency.”

Bank note image by Beau Bo D'or


Chris said...

What I'd like to know is who is giving to this charity and on what conditions? Will all donations be declared and what will the donors want in return? If I was, a rich property developer wanting to get a sit down with the mayor, then this would be a much less risky way of getting an audience than donating to his campaign? Why isn't anyone asking about this?

Anonymous said...

You have demeaned yourself. Even a penny given charitably should not be treated with scorn. Shame on you.

Harold said...

He must be mad trying to get money out of bankers. If ever there was a sure-fail strategy, this is one.
Why doesn't he try the government like everyone else?

AdamB said...

"you have demeaned yourself"

Oh spare me the piety 'anonymous'. All of the Mayor's programmes are up for scrutiny and this one is no more worthy of a free pass than any of the work that the LDA does. If this programme works then good, but if it is just used as a fig leaf to cover up for bigger cutbacks in the GLA budget elsewhere, then I won't be terribly surprised.

Anonymous said...

"Oh spare me the piety 'anonymous'."


That's rich coming from you. Your last reply to me was about as pious as it comes -- specious and dissembling too. The idea you would work yourself into an indignant lather because someone would make a joke about your friend's duvet cover -- anonymously!!! Sacre Bleu!

As noted before, you've been known to press the piety button yourself, when it suits you.

Anyway, it gave me a laugh -- thank you.

--- Still Appealing of Ealing

AdamB said...

No problem. I'm aware you hang on my every word.

Anonymous said...

"I'm aware you hang on my every word."

Not quite.

BTW, I believe you are able to disable anonymous comments from within your Blogger dashboard. I note however, you refrain from doing so! ...Even after the "Duvetgate" scandal!

I say Holmes! -- it just doesn't add up.

---Rgds, Cheerleading of Ealing

AdamB said...

Unfortunately there's no facility to disable off-topic time-wasting comments. Alas.

Tom said...

There's the other point I've made before, which is that there are plenty of other charities in London, which rely to some extent on private sector donations, some of which will now go to Boris to spend on projects according to his political priorities.

Since charities are already facing a tough time, many with increased workloads because the recession creates demand for services, and nearly all with substantially reduced income due to cutbacks both public and private, this is actually potentially damaging to the existing structure of London's charities, which you'd expect Boris to support. Instead he's set up a state monolith. Odd.

stuart graham said...

I think Tom has raised a very salient point that gets to the heart of wan important function of government, namely to ensure that taxpayers' money is spent according to political priority (eg social housing, something of which Boris has done little - I believe nothing, in fact).
If I gave £50 to Cancer Research it would be because I have made a decision to contribute to a cause independently of government on a voluntary basis.
There are thousands of agencies doing fantastic work in London based on voluntary contributions and have done for years. The problem has always been that they have been under funded. It seems that Boris, because of his obsession on cutting spending, will damage that work if people contribute to his fund, rather than paying money directly to the charities concerned. He has created a middleman where none is needed.
I have no problem with the Mayor contibuting taxpayers money to the valuable work that charities do. I can only see taking money, which otherwise could be earmarked for them as somewhat worrying.

Tom said...

"It seems that Boris, because of his obsession on cutting spending, will damage that work if people contribute to his fund, rather than paying money directly to the charities concerned. He has created a middleman where none is needed."

This is precisely why I oppose the use of charities to replace state functions - either it's used as a way of getting taxes down, which leads to the charities being underfunded just when they need the money, or (if you state fund them substantially) it leads to charities becoming inevitably arms of the state, which isn't always in their best interest and can interfere with their independence.

Possibly some form of emergency tide-over counter-cyclical funding of charities from the state might work (just during downturns), but Boris is doing the *opposite* - encouraing the diversion of charitable funds *to* the state during a downturn.