Passing the buck

I admit to being baffled by recent correspondence from both my MP, Hazel Blears and The HM Treasury. Today I finally received replies to queries I raised back in MARCH, in relation to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme decision to deny The Christie Hospital a refund of their £6.5m of charity money lost when two Icelandic banks failed.

Those of you in the know, will probably be aware that while the Financial Services Authority (FSA) denied The Christie a refund from the scheme, they subsequently received their money back via NHS sources. The irony of the timing of these two letters landing on my doorstep today is not lost on me.

My initial letter to Hazel Blears asked for her to support a judicial review into the FSA’s decision – since it not only affected The Christie, but also many other charities across the country. Sadly, the MP for Salford chose not to voice her public support for a judicial review, but instead forwarded my appeal on to the HM Treasury. A case of “passing the buck”, I feel.

While The Christie has received it’s charity cash back, the response from HM Treasury does not bode well for other charities or indeed any other non-profit making bodies such as police authorities, councils or universities, many of which have been affected in a similar way to Christies. At the last count 48 charities had lost £200m in the Icelandic banking collapse, with compensation likely to be less than 20% (if any).

These other non-profit making bodies do not have some mysterious NHS fund to save their lost cash, yet the government seems perfectly happy to see critical services suffer because “the claimant is ineligible for compensation” and “This could lead to these other bodies having a legitimate expectation that they too would be compensated.” Damn right it would.

Two parts of this concern me.

(A) The government seems perfectly willing to spend millions to support the banks that (partly) caused the banking collapse which ultimately led to the loss of donated money, but refuses to help the victims.

(B) Hazel Blears seems to have no opinion on the matter (her handwritten note attached to my “standard reply” letter offers apologies for the delay in getting a response from her government, but no apology for the decision from her government).

Or maybe she agrees with HM Treasury that if a bank fails and a charity loses it’s money, that is acceptable?

Hazel signs off her handwritten note saying that she is pleased Christie has got it’s funds restored. So am I. But I wonder if another banking collapse in the future could see The Christie and other charities lose their money all over again. It could happen.

I support Liberal Democrat MPs John Leach and Mark Hunter (who brought the matter to the government’s attention in the House of Commons) in their continuing campaign to return ALL charitable money lost in the banking collapse.

It’s just a shame Hazel Blears doesn’t seem to care about (or have an opinion on) the huge efforts charities across the country go to in raising much-needed funds.