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Why is the taxpayer spending millions on Stonewall?

Why does the House of Commons need to pay Stonewall to learn how to be good trans allies? It’s not rocket science to hire trans people and employ us on the same terms and conditions as everyone else.

Far too much public money is being spent on learning how to be a ‘trans ally’

Stonewall UK may have started out as a protest but it has become big business. It now pulls in over £8 million a year and pays five figure salaries. That is no secret, but new figures obtained by the TaxPayers’ Alliance show how much of that figure comes from public funds. From freedom of information (FOI) requests they found that public sector organisations handed over no less than £3,105,877 in the last three years alone.

For what? The Stonewall Diversity Champions Programme claims to ensure that, “all LGBTQ+ staff are free to be themselves in the workplace.” But employers should be asking themselves how all this money services that goal. A typical payment, according to TPA, is £3000. Multiply that by 397 organisations across the public sector and it becomes a nice little earner for Stonewall. Last year this scheme coined in £783,923 of public money.

When funds were supposedly so tight that the government announced a pay freeze for the public sector, employees might question why so much money was diverted to things as trivial as rainbow watermarks on employers’ notepads. They are no substitute for a cost-of-living pay award.

Diversity Champions can use the logo but training, events and conferences are charged extra. The House of Commons, for example, appear to have paid £5382 for delegates to attend Stonewall Workplace Conferences in 2018 and 2019. On top of that, they are reported to have spent £5250 on the Trans Allies Programme.

Why does the House of Commons need to pay Stonewall to learn how to be good trans allies? It’s not rocket science to hire trans people and employ us on the same terms and conditions as everyone else. 

Taking a closer look, some individual examples are astonishing. From the responses to the FOI requests it appears that, for example, Goldsmiths University of London paid £396 for a speaker at a “Queering Children’s Literature” event in February 2020.

Organisations might be willing to subcontract policy, but they cannot shirk responsibility. Handing over money to Stonewall might seem worthy — or at least harmless — but when this amount of public money is being spent, it starts to seem like this organisation’s position has got out of hand.

We have stumbled into a situation where a lobbying organisation is taking money from the organisations that they lobby — and in this apparently symbiotic feedback loop, we no longer know who has been calling the shots.


Debbie Hayton

* This article was first published by Unherd on 9 August 2021: Why is the taxpayer spending millions on Stonewall?

By Debbie Hayton

Physics teacher and trade unionist.

2 replies on “Why is the taxpayer spending millions on Stonewall?”

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