Campaigners have warned that the fundraising response to terrorist attacks in the UK has been "unstructured" and open to fraud and have called for the creation of a new fund - the British Survivors Fund.
A report, published today by Survivors Against Terrorism, said a British Survivors Fund would be “loosely modelled on the already existing Disasters Emergency Committee and the London Emergencies Trust”, and would be “publicised in the aftermath of attacks in the UK, or involving British victims”.
Survivors Against Terrorism said the creation of such a fund would “mean more money was raised and that that money would be better spent to help the injured and the families of those bereaved” in the event of a future terrorist attack.
The group will be publishing a second report, looking into the government's response to last year's attacks and whether or not it did enough to support victims and their families, "in the autumn".
Current fundraising system too ‘ad hoc’
The report is critical of the “ad hoc” nature of fundraising appeals in the aftermath of terrorist attacks in Westminster, Finsbury Park, Manchester and London Bridge last year.
It cites digital fundraising platform JustGiving who, in the wake of the attack in Manchester, placed “over 200 fundraising pages in quarantine” after Charity Commission warnings about “con artists trying to exploit the public’s generosity”.
It also says that, despite being set up with “all the good will in the world”, many of those who set up fundraising pages in the wake of attacks “don’t necessarily have a clear plan or approach about what to do with the funding when it is received”.
"At present the financial response to each attack differs, and is mostly dependent on who sets up the first high profile appeal," said the report. "In some cases this is focused on causes, in other cases it is to help one individual and in other cases something more collective is set up.
"These appeals are often set up on sites that charge commission for their services and take a cut of the appeal money. There is often little or no oversight of who is raising money for what."
How a British Survivors Fund would work
The report said that a British Survivors Fund should “draw lessons” from both the DEC and London Emergencies Trust, and “would require a new public funding vehicle similar to the DEC to be combined with an integrated distribution mechanism” like the London Emergencies Trust.
The report suggests that any fund should have a board which would be made up of “chief executives of the major responding organisations including Victims Support, British Red Cross, Survivors Assistance Network (Peace Foundation) and the Samaritans” as well as “independent appointments selected for relevant skills”.
It also said the board should be “independent from government” and be, amongst other things, “speedy”, “inclusive”, “transparent” and “consistent”.
The report was drafted by Charlotte Dixon-Sutcliffe, whose father was killed in the IRA Brighton bombing and Brendan Cox, husband of Jo Cox MP who was murdered by a far-right extremist in 2016.
In its acknowledgements section, the authors thank, amongst other organisations, the Fundraising Regulator, the London Emergencies Trust and the British Red Cross for their “insights and advice”.