Government spends millions lobbying government

Government lobbying itself?
Government lobbying itself?

By staff

A new report highlighting the level of taxpayer-funded lobbying has revealed the government spends an estimated £38 million a year lobbying other parts of the government.

The TaxPayers' Alliance, who compiled the report, reached the figure by adding the amount public sector bodies spent on lobbying, by hiring political consultants and funding trade associations, and the funding of nominally independent political campaigns and thinktanks.

The figure is almost as much as the £38.9 million all three major political parties combined spent through their central campaigns at the 2005 election.

Matthew Sinclair, research director at the campaign group, said: "It is shocking that such a large amount of taxpayers' money is being spent by government lobbying the government.

"It is wasteful for quangos to hire lobbyists in order to persuade government to increase their budgets, and it is morally wrong for government to bankroll political allies."

Public sector organisations spent nearly £4.9 million on hiring political consultancies, according to the report. Seventy-seven public sector organisations were found to be spending on political consultancies, the biggest spender being Scottish Enterprise, which spent over £1 million.

Fourteen consultancies received more than £100,000 in payments from public sector organisations, the largest being Strategem, which received £876,121.

Three trade associations have a combined taxpayer funded income of more than £23 million (Local Government Association, Association of Police Authorities and NHS Confederation).

The report also looks at the amount of taxpayers' money given by public sector organisations (including the EU) to independent groups, whose primary focus is campaigning for policy change, including political campaigns, lobby groups, think tanks and charities.

"Channelling taxpayers' money to supposedly independent organisations raises the danger that the government has effectively bought external support for their own policies," Mr Sinclair added.

Nearly £1.8 million is spent on health policy campaigns, including £515,000 paid to Alcohol Concern, £191,000 paid to Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and £130,000 paid to the Family Planning Association.

Environmental policy campaigns received over £6.7 million, including funding for the Sustainable Development Commission, Friends of the Earth, the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences and numerous other groups, according to the report.

Using Freedom of Information requests to key quangos and government departments, the report found £1.6 million in taxpayer funding for major think tanks - Demos, the New Economics Foundation; the Institute for Public Policy Research and the New Local Government Network.


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