Looking back, it wasn't a great 2021 for LGBT+ group Stonewall. There were the allegations it misrepresented the law in its advice to Essex University, accusations from founder Matthew Parris that it was trying to delegitimise critics and the ongoing exodus of Whitehall departments from its much-criticised diversity scheme. But despite all this controversy, the charity's latest accounts reveal a still-reliable stream of income from one reliable source: the taxpayer.
Stonewall received £1.25 million in taxpayer-funded grants in just 18 months to March 2021, according to documents published this week. This figure is a near-67 per cent increase on the £748,000 they received in their previous accounts, which covered the 12 months up until September 2019. All the great and the good quangos and ministries are there: the Welsh and Scottish governments both handed over hundreds of thousands of pounds, while NHS Scotland provided a grant of almost £50,000.
And which department came top of the funding pile? None other than Liz Truss's Foreign Office, which handed over more than £750,000 up until March 2021, compared to just £145,000 in the one-year period to September 2019. This is despite Truss previously urging officials to withdraw from the charity's diversity scheme over concerns it is not providing value for money. The Government Equalities Office, which Truss also heads, began funding Stonewall in the same period, giving the organisation more than £50,000. Nice!
Asked by Mr S where all this money was going, a spokesman for the Foreign Office said:
'The FCDO 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.'
Here's hoping that went better than the Foreign Office's own efforts to get people out of Kabul.