A funding update

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Every now and then I need to provide an update on my funding in the interests of transparency, which is something I have spent so long campaigning for.

On Friday l learned that Finance for the Future LLP, which is the partnership between Colin Hines and me that began trading in 2007  has won by far its largest grant award to date.

As I noted in July this year, the Polden-Puckham Charitable Foundation had then agreed to give Finance for the Future a grant of £20,000 a year to work on what we called the QuEST for a Green New Deal, where QuEST stands for quantitative easing, savings and tax. It is our opinion that all of these can be used for the purposes of funding the necessary processes of change that will tackle the environmental crisis that we face. Our work on changing tax reliefs for pensions and ISAs is an example of what we are doing.

This summer the Polden-Puckham trustees told us that they were changing their approach to funding, meaning that they had decided to give bigger grants to be paid out of their capital because they believe that the climate crisis is so significant that there is no time to waste in tackling it. As a result they asked us whether we might be able to use additional funds in the course of the work that we were already committed to undertake. We were invited to consider an application of in excess of £50,000.

As anyone who is involved in making grant applications will know, preparing any proposal to a grant funder is a time absorbing activity. Having considered a range of proposals Colin and I decided to bid at the lowest level that we were invited to consider. I am now pleased to confirm that we have been granted this sum for the next three years, subject of course to success in delivery in the meantime.

The scope of the work that we are doing is extended as a result of this grant. Whilst we have been engaging, largely behind the scenes, on our original proposal around ISAs and the need for green saving accounts with, we think, some success we will now considerably expand this work. This will involve engagement with pension funds on a broader basis, and will also involve:

  • new thinking on the interaction between our suggestion and what are called investment taxonomies, which are the guidelines used to define what is, and is not considered green for these purposes;
  • how accounting needs to reform to deliver what can be proven to be green investment opportunities;
  • how green quantitative easing can really deliver;
  • whether other tax reliefs need to be subject to review;
  • whether this idea can be internationalised, not least by considering the role of IMF special drawing rights.

Polden-Puckham have given us the chance to be opportunistic. They are encouraging us to work with other organisations, and we will. We will also be considering how we deliver our message, which is an issue of some importance. We are also very aware that Colin and I are too older white males, and that we need to be sure that what we're saying is of relevance to diverse audiences which means that we will be looking to involve other campaigners in the project.

The result is that the total funds will by no means be only used to pay Colin and myself, albeit that we do expect that a reasonable part will be for this purpose.

This now has a quite significant influence on my personal funding. In summary this now comes from the following sources:

  • Sheffield University Management School, one day a week Professor of Accounting Practice;
  • Copenhagen Business School via the Corporate Accountability Network, approximately one day a week on sustainable cost accounting;
  • Polden-Puckham, as noted above;
  • Luminate via the Corporate Accountability Network, which is a grant now in its very final stages on audit reform, and which will not be renewed;
  • Donations to the blog;
  • Other sources e.g. writing for The National newspaper.

I hope that it is apparent that there is a common theme running through these projects: they are meant to support each other whilst each has its own character.

It is important in this context to draw attention to the latest accounts of Tax Research LLP, which cover the year to March 2021, which have now been put on the web.

In the spring of 2020 virtually all of my identified income streams disappeared as Covid became an issue. With the encouragement of the Joffe Trust, who basically made it a condition of funding of a grant at that time, I asked for donations to support the work I was doing when I had no idea where other work might come from.

As the accounts of Tax Research LLP show, other work did come back into play to an extent that was bigger than I expected, and the Corporate Accountability Network also attracted grants that paid me a salary. That said, the biggest single source of income for Tax Research LLP last year was donations. As I note in the accounts:

In April 2020 it looked as if there might be remarkably little income in the following year within Tax Research LLP. An application was made as a result for funding from the Joffe Charitable Trust for work on a project called Tax After Coronavirus (TACs). This resulted in a grant of £7,500 and the publication of research into a range of options for alternative methods of taxing wealth, in particular, after the crisis was over. Some are summarised here: http://taxresearch.org.uk/Wiki/2020/05/11/tax-after-coronavirus-tacs/.

The Joffe Charitable Trust declined to provide further funding, suggesting that they thought donations could be sought from readers of the Tax Research UK blog. This blog had its best ever year in 2020, being read more than 3 million times. An appeal was launched as a result. In total £12,737 was donated as a result. Thanks are offered to all who provided support. It has been very much appreciated.

I do now have a note to add. For the first time in some time, I now have secure funding for an extended period. I have greatly appreciated the donations received. But, if anyone now thinks that the time has come to donate to others I would entirely understand that.  I think it only fair that I say so and at the same time offer thanks to all who have donated. The videos and other work that the donations funded will continue.