THE opaque funding of dark money think tanks with close ties to the UK Government must be “urgently” addressed, according to the SNP.
It comes after the Who Funds You? project by openDemocracy found that the nine least transparent think tanks have raised more than £14 million from mystery donors in the past two years.
The formerly volunteer-run project uses the income disclosures of the 28 most influential think tanks to rank them on a scale of how transparent their funding is.
This year’s analysis ranked nine of these bodies with an ‘E’ rating – the worst possible score.
Together they had a total income of at least £14.3 million but there was negligible or in some cases no information visible to the public concerning where the majority of this money comes from.
I raised @openDemocracy's excellent #whofundsyou report in the Commons yesterday and have written to the Prime Minister seeking an urgent meeting on shadily funded think tanks. https://t.co/gkjQkn5Bfv— Deidre Brock MP (@DeidreBrock) November 18, 2022
Some of the worst rated organisations include the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA), the right-wing think tank that greeted Liz Truss’s disastrous mini-Budget with glee at the time of its announcement, and the Adam Smith Institute, which also has close ties to the Conservative Party.
SNP MP Deirdre Brock welcomed the report and has written to the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to request a meeting to discuss its findings.
The MP for Edinburgh North and Leith previously challenged the Prime Minister on the shadowy nature of think tank funding and queried the legitimacy of their charitable status at Prime Minister’s Questions.
She said: “The Who Funds You? 2022 report, now conducted by openDemocracy, provides a comprehensive and much-needed financial audit of the UK’s most high-profile think tanks.
“While some of the bodies were found to have very good reporting practices, the report confirms that many of those with the greatest sway over public policy are awash with secretive funding.
“If we don’t know who funds think tanks, then we cannot know for sure whose interests they are really serving or why they are advocating particular policies.
She added: “For evidence of the far-reaching impact these bodies can have on our economy and public life, we only need to look at the fallout from Truss and Kwarteng’s catastrophic mini-budget, which was directly inspired by policies from bodies such as the IEA.
“The Prime Minister must heed my call to address this matter urgently, otherwise questions will linger about his about his government's links with these shadowy groups.”
Who Funds You? previously ran for seven years before coming to an end in 2019.
However, openDemocracy have relaunched the project after campaigners highlighted concerns about the influential nature of often opaquely funded organisations close ties to the UK Government.
Ten organisations received the highest rating of ‘A’, meaning they named all funders who donated £5000 or more in the past year and published the exact amount given.
These included the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Fabian Society.
Downing Street has been contacted for comment.