After BuzzFeed exposed the activities of Give Us Time, a charity set up by disgraced former Defence Secretary Liam Fox, pointing out that a grant of £500,000 had been awarded to it from the Treasury’s “Libor Fund”, most of which remains unspent, Zelo Street has looked more closely at the numbers. The conclusions will not make happy reading for all those in and around the Tory Party who hold Fox in such high regard.
When will it be Goodnight From Them?
Give Us Time has raised funds through a series of events, and even advertised collections at times when Fox has been giving his services as a speaker. It is increasingly clear that, looking through the accounts of the charity, that this should be sufficient to enable it to function without the need for any grant aid, and certainly not half a million quid.
But let’s start at the beginning, with Give Us Time’s definition of its activities: “Give Us Time takes one-week holidays and short breaks donated by owners of holiday homes, hotels, resorts and timeshares, and matches them with military families in need of rest, rehabilitation and re-connection after long periods deployment or adverse family situations. the charity was launched in 2012 by Dr Liam Fox MP”.
No payment is made for the accommodation; this has all been donated. In most cases, no payment is made by the charity, which will “only offer to subsidise travel payments in exceptional financial circumstances … Holiday homes have been donated and are free to use, however all other holiday expenses, including travel and transport, taxes and insurance, food and activities, are yours to cover”.
Where is all the money going, then? Well, there are “offices in Hanover Square, just off London’s Bond Street”, presumably responsible for the payment of £13,893 last year in rent. But why is any office accommodation needed? Give Us Time has a website where forces families register and find holiday homes for their week away. The administration of that could be done by a volunteer working part time from home.
After all, fewer than 140 holidays have been set up in the charity’s first three years. Even if each one required two hours of admin time, that would be seven weeks’ work spread over a three year period - less than two hours a week. Last year’s “charitable spending” totals over £155,000 - but where is it going? There are no employees, just four volunteers.
Give Us Time helped 92 families in 2014-15. Even if a whole 10% of them had travel paid for, and we allocate a round £10,000 for that, it does not explain the £36,649 “Travel and accommodation expenses for beneficiaries”. And why is the donated accommodation shown as “Gifts in kind” in the accounts? Curiouser and curiouser.
Liam Fox’s charity could have accomplished all its work to date without one penny of grant assistance. There is no need for it to have a London office. The travel and accommodation costs for beneficiaries appears suspiciously inflated. Fox and his staff, according to the BuzzFeed report, have benefited from the charity. And in view of his previous charitable form, it is not unreasonable to ask that a close eye is kept on Give Us Time.
Zelo Street will return to this subject in the very near future.