For almost three years, and along with most of the LGBT community in Manchester, I have believed that just £65,000 was raised for good causes by Operation Fundraiser at Manchester Pride 2006. This week, finally, I heard the full story from what seems to be a reliable source.
Previously I reported that the 2006 charity figure was so low because the tax man decided that Pride was no longer a charity event, hadn’t been since 2003, and charged it VAT of £56,000 for the years from 2003-2006. This is true.
I understand that Operation Fundraiser knew for several years prior to 2006 that the tax man was unhappy, but chose not to hold back any money just in case or address the situation.
What I didn’t know is that, apparently, due to the small amount available in 2006, both the Lesbian and Gay Foundation and George House Trust decided not to take money from the charity amount that year. It seems this wasn’t made public. Possibly because it would have drawn attention to the embarrassing VAT situation, which I don’t think was reported anywhere other than here on g7uk.com.
Operation Fundraiser appealed against the VAT charge and, some time later, and at the moment I’m unclear on exactly when, the appeal was successful.
As the LGF and George House Trust had forgone any income, the £56,000 was split between the two of them and, again, for some reason it seems this wasn’t made public.
After 2006, Operation Fundraiser was dismantled and Manchester Pride became a charity in its own right. In the gay press this was presented as a long held ambition of Pride, with no mention of the VAT situation.
So, the good news is that Manchester Pride 2006 actually raised £121,000 for good causes. The bad news is that it has taken me a couple of years to find out. Every page of this website has a contact link and the ‘powers that be’ are well aware of the sites existence. But apparently no one who was in possession of the full facts wanted to offer this up information.
I can only conclude that they decided they would rather it was reported that the charity figure was just £65,000 than get into a potentially embarrassing discussion about what happened and why.
This lack of transparency is unacceptable when it involves charities and money paid by the public. But I think some of the people at the top realise that and I’m optimistic that we will see a bit more openness in the future.
This was actually mentioned in the LGF’s annual report. It’s nothing new. Pride just failed to make much reference to it because it didn’t suit them and they didn’t have to.
Don’t be fooled by the marketing speak. Operation Fundraiser was simply “re-organised” for tax purposes, it happens all the time in the voluntary sector. Funds are still distributed in the same way but by a group appointed by Pride, administered by the LGF. It’s almost the same setup – infact it even has the same chair person. Emma Peate still chases groups for the buckets on their pride stall year after year, oh look the same person still has those responsibilities. Nothing has changed, just the set-up.
Members of the community have been calling for more openness and transparency around where the money goes for years, it only leads to more vague and misleading multi-coloured pie charts and expensive glossy annual reports designed to cover-up any discrepancies published by the same people who have lost their creditials and are flogging a dead horse to keep their own interests afloat.