Ministers spent £38m on lobbying

Ministers stand accused of spending more than £38m of public money last year on lobbying and political campaigning.

The money funded trade associations, health and environmental campaigns, political consultancies and think-tanks, a report from the TaxPayers' Alliance pressure group states.

Most of the funds – £23.2m – went on three trade associations which the alliance believes are special-interest lobbying groups that should not be supported by public funds: the Local Government Association, the Association of Police Authorities and the NHS Confederation. Environmental policy campaigns received £6.7m in 2007-08. Recipients included the Sustainable Development Commission, Friends of the Earth and the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences. Nearly £1.8m funded health policy campaigns.

Almost 80 public sector organisations spent £4.9m on political consultancies; Stratagem received the largest amount – £876,121.

The think-tanks Demos, the New Economics Foundation, the Institute for Public Policy Research and the New Local Government Network received £1.6m.

Matthew Sinclair, the alliance research director, called for the taxpayer funding of all lobbying and political campaigning to be scrapped and for full transparency of public spending.

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