Charity tightens grant processes after funding pro-Brexit report

Written by Matt Ritchie

An education charity has tightened up its grant processes after funding a research report that made a case for Britain exiting the European Union.

The Charity Commission became involved with the Politics and Economics Research Trust after concerns were raised around the charity’s funding of campaigning organisations Business for Britain and Taxpayers’ Alliance.

The regulator said that during its involvement trustees concluded a Business for Britain report the charity had funded represented a ‘position statement’, rather than a nuanced position on the issues.

Trustees concluded the report did not conform to what was agreed during the grant application stage, the commission said.

PERT requested the funding for Change, or go - How Britain would gain influence and prosper outside an unreformed EU be returned, which it was.

In a case report the commission said that before its engagement PERT did not have formal grant agreements in place, and did not have processes to monitor projects it had funded.

However, the charity now has an amended grant application form, which requires more detail about how research being commissioned will further the charity’s objects.

PERT now has a grant agreement template, and an operational policy document setting out the charity’s grant making policy. The document describes the charity’s procedures including how it monitors the use of grant funds.

The charity has also appointed an administrator responsible for assessing grant applications prior to their consideration by trustees and for taking minutes and recording key decisions.

The charity’s website has been updated to better publicise the research reports it funds.

“The trustees are now responsible for ensuring that the new policy is implemented and followed, and for ensuring the charity complies with our guidance to them, which is that charities with objects to further education cannot promote a political or pre-determined point of view,” the commission’s report said. “One of the key features of advancing education or promoting research for the public benefit in charity law is that the education or research must not promote a particular point of view or promote a position on a contested area, unless that view is uncontroversial.”

In an emailed statement, a PERT spokesperson said: “The new trustees of PERT are grateful to the Charity Commission's case report and for its acknowledgement that the correct decision-making process, together with the recording of decision-making and the monitoring of grants, are now all in place.”

Access the commission’s report here.

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