Government lifts Oxfam’s funding ban as charity reports £373m income

10 Nov 2022 News


Oxfam GB will be able to bid for statutory aid funding once more following consecutive bans since 2018 relating to reports of abuse claims, the government has announced.

Recently appointed development minister Andrew Mitchell announced today that his department’s latest ban on Oxfam’s ability to bid, which had been in place since April 2021, has now been revoked.

He said Oxfam had made “significant improvements to how it deals with safeguarding” since last year, when the charity suspended two members of staff working in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), after complaints of corruption and intimidation.

Meanwhile, the charity has reported that its overall income increased by £28.7m last year, boosted by large increases in its trading and fundraising revenue streams.

Funding ban lifted

Oxfam’s most recent funding ban came shortly after the end of its previous voluntary withdrawal from bidding for government money, which began in 2018 following reports of safeguarding allegations in Haiti.

Last year, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) had said that the DRC allegations had “called into question” Oxfam’s ability to meet safeguarding standards required to receive government funds.

FCDO removed its ban today after noting “significant improvements” to Oxfam’s safeguarding systems in DRC, including the appointment of a national safeguarding advisor, a new network of safeguarding experts and training for staff on how to report concerns.

Mitchell said: “Oxfam has made significant improvements to how it deals with safeguarding, including introducing more effective preventative measures.

“However, we are not complacent. We want to encourage reporting and a robust but sensitive response in every case, ensuring more reporting and better responses to cases. All providers of aid must have practices in place to make sure that safeguarding is always put first and foremost in planning and operations.”

An Oxfam spokesperson said: “We are determined to continue to improve our safeguarding so that our work takes place in as safe as environment as possible.

“Today’s decision is a welcome recognition of the progress we have made over recent years. We hope it will enable us to work with communities around the world to save more lives and help more people to escape poverty.”

Reopened charity shops aid income recovery

Oxfam GB has continued to receive some UK government funding in recent years, that it had bid for prior to the voluntary withdrawal in 2018.

But this funding has sharply declined year-on-year from £21.8m in 2017-18 to £231,000 in 2021-22.

The charity’s income increased by £28.7m last year, boosted by large increases in its trading and fundraising revenue streams, its recently filed accounts show.

This brought its total revenue to £373m, just below its pre-pandemic income of £376.4m in 2019-20.

Oxfam’s trading income more than doubled year-on-year to £88m, up from £39.4m in 2020-21 when many of its shops were shut due to lockdown measures.

The charity’s fundraising income rose to £137.9m, driven by an increase in money from Disasters Emergency Committee appeals, donated goods for distribution to beneficiaries and legacies.

But Oxfam’s income from national governments including the UK, US and Sweden, declined from £27.9m to £19.0m.

Chief executive Danny Sriskandarajah said: “Having weathered the impact of the pandemic on our finances and operations, Oxfam is now better placed to support our partners and communities around the world as together we face the challenges of the cost-of-living crisis and economic uncertainty.”

Safeguarding investigations

Oxfam safeguarding team investigated 38 cases in 2021-22, 22 of which were related to its international programmes and 16 related to its UK retail operation.

The charity dismissed 10 staff following investigations, gave three formal warnings, took other action in 12 cases, while the other 14 were not upheld.

An additional 57 reports closed following initial assessment or an alternative form of action.

The charity also published a new safeguarding strategy in February.

“I remain personally committed to making sure that Oxfam’s work takes place in as safe an environment as possible,” said Sriskandarajah.

“We recognise that abuse is more likely to occur when there are imbalances of power, and so our safeguarding strategy is underpinned by our commitment to shift power to the people we serve, and our ambition to be feminist and anti-racist in all that we do.

“We continue to work with our partners to shift power in our network, to connect on a more equal footing, to decolonise relationships, to champion diversity, and to seek racial justice.”

Meanwhile, Sriskandarajah’s salary decreased slightly in 2021-22 to £120,600 while Oxfam’s overall staff costs declined by £14m to £102.5m, including £900,000 of termination fees.

Oxfam’s overall number of full-time employees declined by 6% to 3,886.

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