Use aid to make UK a hub for philanthropic funds, Kruger report says

A government-commissioned report on civil society recommends building on the U.K.’s “great history of philanthropy and innovation” to bolster its aid budget. Photo by: Leonhard Foeger / Reuters

LONDON — Philanthropic funds from the “world’s super-rich” should be integrated into the United Kingdom’s development strategy, and some of the aid budget should be used to attract this money, according to a government-commissioned report.

The report on civil society by Danny Kruger, a member of Parliament with the governing Conservative Party, was written in response to a request from Prime Minister Boris Johnson. It recommends mostly domestic-focused policies designed to “sustain the community spirit we saw during the lockdown.”

But the Kruger report, published Thursday, also recommends building on the U.K.’s “great history of philanthropy and innovation” to bolster the official development assistance budget.

“The wealthy could give more, and the very wealthy could give a lot more.”

— From: “Levelling up our communities: Proposals for a new social covenant”

We should build on our status as a global hub for wealth management, and our recent record as the world leader in social investment,” Kruger writes in the report.

“The government might explore the possibility of partnering with an academic institution or group of foundations to develop policy and engagement, including a plan to campaign for the world’s super-rich to invest their philanthropic funds in London and benefit from the infrastructure of expertise and experience there.”

He continues: “One way to attract this capital would be to devote a fraction of the UK’s international development budget to a match-fund scheme, multiplying the budget and tying philanthropy to our development strategy.”

The report does not provide more detail on how the scheme would work, how these philanthropic funds should be divided between domestic and international purposes, or how they would be tied into the U.K.’s development spending.

Unlike the United States, the U.K. is not regarded as having a strong culture of philanthropic giving by its wealthiest citizens, despite recent initiatives designed to induce more charitable giving.

“The wealthy could give more, and the very wealthy could give a lot more,” the report states. “Of those earning more than £250,000, two thirds make no donations to charity whatsoever. We need a better culture of giving.”

About the author

  • William Worley

    William Worley is the U.K. Correspondent for Devex, covering DFID and British aid. Previously, he reported on international affairs, policy, and development. He also worked as a reporter for the U.K. national press, including the Times, Guardian, Independent, and i Paper. His reportage has included work on the Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh, drought in Madagascar, the "migrant caravan" in Mexico, and Colombia’s peace process. He can be reached at william.worley@devex.com.