Why should bodies that promote free markets and free schools be entitled to taxpayer funded subsidies via charity status? Asks GMB

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We could do without intervention in South West London school selling playing fields by body linked to Stanley Fink, Treasurer of the Conservative Party and that he has the temerity to complain about losing the right to tax breaks for such bodies is galling says GMB


GMB, the union with 618,000 members, has established that a range of organizations that promote free market solutions and free schools are registered as charities and as such they are entitled to donations eligible for taxpayer funded subsidies to promote these political views and policies.


Below are listed 10 such bodies which enjoyed an income of £27.6m in their last published accounts. GMB does not know how much of this income comes for the tax breaks to be capped as charity donations to promote such policies unlike political donations are not in the public domain.

Absolute Return for Kids (ARK) £13,593,000 Accounts for 31 Aug 2010
Future Leaders Charitable Trust Ltd £6,903,226 Accounts for 31 Aug 2010
Policy Exchange Ltd £2,076,820 Accounts for 30 Sep 2010
Social Affairs Unit £612,587 Accounts for 30 Jun 2010
Civitas Ltd £1,347,716 Accounts for 31 Dec 2010
Legatum Institute Foundation newly registered
The Institute of Economic Affairs Ltd £896,000 Accounts for 31 Dec 2010
Reform Research Trust £1,122,693 Accounts for 31 Dec 2010
The Countryside Alliance Foundation £799,125 Accounts for 31 Mar 2011
Politics and Economics Research Trust- linked to Taxpayers Alliance £248,836 Accounts for 31 Dec 2010
Total £27,600,003


The ARK Board, trustees and patrons are as follows:

·         Kevin Gundle – Chief Executive Officer Aurum Funds Ltd, founding Trustee of ARK.

·         Nick Finegold – Co-Chief Executive Officer of Espirito Santo Investment Bank

·         David Harding – Founder Chairman of Winton Capital Management. Ranked 196th of the Sunday Times Rich List 2011 with wealth of £410m.

·         Arpad Busson – Hedge fund boss and founder of EIM. Ranked 381st in the Sunday Times Rich List valued at £180m with his girlfriend, Uma Thurman.

·         Stanley Fink – Chief Executive Officer of International Standard Asset Management, Treasurer of the conservative party. Regarded as the father of the British Hedge Fund industry and ranked 583rd on the Sunday Times Rich list with wealth of £120m.

·         Jennifer Moses – former Agent Provocateur director, wife of collapsed hedge fund boss Ron Beller and friend of Michale Gove.

·         Blaine Tomlinson – Group CEO of Financial Risk Management Ltd, multi-billion dollar hedge fund.

·         Nick Jenkins – Chief Executive Officer. Owner of online Greetings card company Moonpig.com, previously a commodities trader. Sunday Times Rich list, 1,474th with £45m. Chief Executive of ARK

·         Ian Wace – Chairman. Set up Marshall Wace hedge fund with Paul Marshall. Ranked 257th on the Sunday Times Rich list with wealth of £300m.

·         Paul Marshall – Set up Marshall Wace hedge fund with Ian Wace. Ranked 257th on the Sunday Times Rich list with wealth of £300m. Co-founder of ARK.

·         Paul Dunning – hedge fund manager, established Finsbury Capital Advisers

·         Michael Platt – Co-founder and CEO of Guernsey based asset management company, BlueCrest Capital Management. Ranked 143rd on the Sunday Times Rich list with wealth of £525m

·         Anthony Williams, chairman of Bluefield Partners and former partner of Goldman Sachs


·         Elton John – honorary patron

·         Lily Safra – honorary patron, socialite and philanthropist worth an estimated $1.2bn. Inherited wealth from her late husband, Edmond Safra, billionaire banker.

·         Elena Ambrosiadou – CEO of hedge fund Ikos. Was the highest paid woman in Britain until Ikos moved to Cyprus in 2005.



Paul Maloney GMB Regional Secretary for Southern Region said “ARK is up to its neck in promoting right wing dogma in South West London schools and are being totally disruptive and anti – democratic.


They are supporting the selling 4 acres of playing fields at Elliot School in Putney to pay the costs of buying land for a free school in Battersea which planned to exclude poor kids.The average annual household income of parents near the Elliot School is 63% of the London average household income. The average annual income of parents living near this new Battersea School is 186% of the London average household income.


So these rich people are entitled to tax breaks which they are free to use to promote robbing kids of playing fields in a poorer part of South West London to pay for a Bankers Free School in an affluent part of the area. ARK were quite happy to go along with the exclusion of poor kids on the wrong side of the track too till GMB stepped in to stop them.


Frankly we could do without this intervention in our community this body linked to Stanley Fink, Treasurer of the Conservative Party and father of the British Hedge Fund industry who is ranked 583rd on the Sunday Times Rich list with wealth of £120m. That he has the temerity to complain about losing the right to tax breaks for organizations promoting right wing dogma is galling.”

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25 Responses to Why should bodies that promote free markets and free schools be entitled to taxpayer funded subsidies via charity status? Asks GMB

  1. onechickentim says:

    Hi mods, really disappointed that the above comment has been held in moderation for so long. Can someone explain why please?

  2. onechickentim says:

    I’m sorry if you feel I was missing the point Graffo, personally I think it’s important to make it clear that Elliott is an improving school despite what was being said. Hopefully you think my last post is more relevant to the mater in hand.

    Actually I think the most important aspect of this particular case is the quality of the buildings and the green space that the council are proposing to do away with. These would be an asset to the school and to the borough regardless of wether Elliott becomes an academy.

    I would encourage anyone who have an interest in this to attend the final two Public Consultation Meetings at Elliott school:

    Thursday 17th May, 5pm – 8pm
    Saturday 19th May 10am – 1pm

    You can come anytime between the times listed, so don’t worry about being there from the start. These dates may be the last chance you will get to be on the school grounds and see what is under threat.

    Also on Friday 18th May there is a benefit gig for the Save Elliott School Campaign being held at the Bread and Roses in Clapham to raise much needed funds. Details for all this can be found at:


    Lastly I’d encourage people to sign up to the campaign newsletter at:


  3. Jane says:

    Graffo: very much to the point. I would disagree with you in blaming the head for failing to look after the school – there is only so much anyone can do without an injection of funds when it comes to buildings.

    When Wandsworth were prioritising the BSF bids they prioritised Burntwood and Chestnut Grove over Elliott. Those 2 schools had the bid approved. Elliott’s was stopped. Since then we have had the DfE and Wandsworth put a considerable amount of money into the Bolingbroke Academy – a totally unnecessary school – rather than Elliott.

    Over the years, Wandsworth Council have sold off school buildings which were deemed to be ‘unnecessary’. That money should have been invested in school buildings but, in part, has been used to boost their tribute to the rich of the borough by keeping the council tax down.

  4. Graffo says:

    Whilst you lot see fit to sit and argue over who said what and when the real point is being missed;

    1, The Head,Governors and the Council have failed abysmally to look after a school and should be taken to task for it.

    2,The Council has done this with many of their buildings in a bid to stash funds. I suggest you spend a little time looking at Council minutes and you will find the same problem in various buildings.

    3,This is green land in London, it should not be sold off to aid the rich investors getting richer, it should be kept for its intended purpose; A CHILDREN’S PLAYING FIELD!

  5. onechickentim says:

    Regarding head teacher Mark Phillips’ letter to SW15 and his support for the proposal, he seems to deserve some praise and respect for efforts to improve the school.

    However, all the issues about the condition of the school have been apparent for many, many years. The cancelation of Building Schools for the Future is certainly a factor here but for me it merely raises questions about the lack of council provision. For example:

    • What other contingency plans did the council have when it became clear that BSF funding was under threat?
    • What, for that matter, was the plan had Elliott not secured a BSF grant?
    • Why had the buildings been allowed to decay to such an extent up to that point?
    • Why is the council not prepared to use its reserves or other assets before it compromises the school?

    Also, the end of the letter deserves careful reading:

    “…we are told the modernisation can only proceed if some land is sold to fund it.”

    It’s seems clear to me that the council have only given one option to the school and that even if Mr Phillips didn’t support the proposal (which I accept he does) he’d still have no alternative but to carry it out or face probable closure.

    The issues around ARK specifically and academy status in general are debatable. I accept that there will be a range of views in the borough about them. If the head, the school in general and the council are all in favour of ARK taking over the school then perhaps, given national policy, that’s just the way it goes.

    What’s beyond doubt though, is that it’s wholly wrong for the school to have to fund the proposals by selling it’s own assets. Either the council or ARK have a clear responsibility to ensure Elliott’s acclaimed buildings are restored rather than demolished, it’s landscaped grounds kept for future staff and students.

    Lets be clear: the proposed ARK academy would be a far greater school if it retains the land and buildings due to be lost. Mr Phillips agrees it seems. He “would much prefer to retain all the land surrounding the school”. Once those facilities are sold for private development they’re gone for good.

  6. onechickentim says:

    Andrea, it’s been 24 hours since you accused me of misrepresenting the facts. I’ve since shows you why that is incorrect and its disappointing to me that you haven’t retracted your accusation.

    Its not just that you “should have used better words to express the performance of Elliott during this period”, it’s that you repeated inaccuracies long after you were corrected. You also always seem to highlight the period in the past when the school was having the most difficulty. At the same time it’s noticeable that you never acknowledge the recent improvements at Elliott or it’s prior status as a successful school.

    At best I think thats pretty mean-spirited when the school clearly needs supporting while coming out of a very difficult period. At worst I think you’re deliberately distorting the schools reputation in a public forum to support it’s transition to an Academy.

  7. Jane says:

    Cornelius: such are the bizarre arguments put forward for attempting to justify academies that, for just a moment, I thought you were serious!

  8. Local authorities are heavily involved in the registration and support of childminders.This state of affairs is in need of urgent reform

    I think childminding services should be ‘academised’ since childminders would receive much better support from the DfE than they have ever had from those Trots who run local childminding services.

    Children only receive one pre school education and it needs to be the best. Why not persuade hedge fund managers to invest in national chains of centrally managed child minding services so? After all many of them have a great deal of knowledge and understanding of childcare matters.

    You people at the anti academies alliance are SO blinkered and narrow minded. The scope and benefits of academistation are massive- you just need to recognise it!

  9. Rodger says:

    Why would any community want their local school being run by ARK?

  10. onechickentim says:

    Correction: the 7:38 comment is by Janet.


  11. onechickentim says:


    I haven’t misrepresented anything. On 3 December 2011 at 7:13pm, about a third of the way down the page I linked to, you wrote:

    “Could you let us know, as a governor, why the current management team has been unable to bring about improvement and it remains in special measures.
This schools (according to OFSTED) has been underperforming since 2000…”

    At 7:38 a commenter called Mary corrects you:

    “…The school isn’t in special measures. It wasn’t on Gove’s original list of 200 ‘underperforming’ primaries. Ofsted are of the view that the school is rapidly improving.”

    I hope that makes my statement clear.

  12. Andrea Wilson says:

    Onechickentim- you are misrepresenting the facts.
    your link above does not show any correction of facts at all.
    I do stand corrected as I interpretated an OFSTED rating of 4, ie inadequate, notice to improve and then special measures over the period 2007 to 2010 as “many years in special measures”. Agreed I should have used better words to express the performance of Elliott during this period.
    Here is the letter the headteacher, Mark Phillips, sent to the SW15 newsletter.

    Elliott School is making rapid progress (achieving its highest ever GCSE atainment last summer) and we’re proud of that but there is only so far we can go in a building that is urgently in need of renovation and is not able to fully support the delivery of a modern curriculum.

    I believe that by working closely with an ambitious and experienced sponsor we can build on the school’s heritage and create a thriving academy that will give Putney parents the school their children deserve. That is why we will become an ARK academy from September.

    The school is an important grade II listed building but it urgently needs to be restored. The existing building is leaky, too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter, the windows need replacing, the sports provision does not meet DFE or Sport England requirements, classrooms are inflexible and the disabled access is inadequate.

    We should and do treasure our heritage but we also need a school that works and is safe for pupils and staff. We need to restore and preserve what’s best about Elliott and replace that which is no longer adequate. Of course, English Heritage is being consulted every step of the way.

    In an ideal world, I would much prefer to retain all the land surrounding the school. Sadly that opportunity was lost with the cancellation of the Building Schools for the Future project and we are told the modernisation can only proceed if some land is sold to fund it. Although the site will be smaller the development will leave us with better play space and better sports facilities than we currently have.

    I hope local people will support the proposals so that we can provide a really outstanding school for local children.

  13. Diane Bindman says:

    If this so-called democratic process is not just so much window dressing why have Wandsworth Council officially put out the sale of the land for tender, weeks before the consultation period is over?
    I taught at Elliott School for 30 years, the school was not well maintained by Wandsworth during that period but I was always keenly aware and appreciative of the educational and social benefits which accrued as a consequence of having that green space. This action is nothing more nor less than assett stripping, stealing from the poor to give to the rich. It is indicative of the low regard in which Wandsworth Councillors hold Elliott school pupils and their families; they are so ideologically driven they will even go against the spirit of their own government’s legislation due to come into force next year prohibiting such undesirable action.

  14. onechickentim says:

    Jane: many thanks for correcting that, I missed Andrea’s latest inaccuracy when I I was commenting yesterday afternoon.

    Andrea: This is a very serious matter, you’ve continually repeated statements about Elliott School that are simply not true, you don’t provide any links in support of these statements and you haven’t responded in a meaningful way when you are corrected.

    A quick Google search of your name plus this site’s address shows that this is not the first time that you’ve spread mis-information in a comments roll. See for example your comment on 3 December 2011 at 7:13pm and it’s subsequent correction at 7:38pm here:


    A school’s reputation is the currency it uses to attract parents and students, it’s irresponsible of you to tarnish Elliott’s reputation (which I concede has not been the best in recent years) by peddling inaccurate information. To do so long after I’ve corrected you raises serious questions about your agenda on this site.

    Please make every effort to be accurate in the future.

  15. Jane says:

    For the record: in 2007 Ofsted gave Elliott notice to improve, it was not put into special measures. In 2009, the school was put into special measures. It was not then given a full inspection until November 2010 when it came out of special measures. Between the 2009 and 2010 inspections, there were 3 section 8 inspection reports which all said that Elliott was making satisfactory progress and, in February 2010, was deemed to have made sufficient progress to be able to take on newly qualified teachers. This information is available on the Ofsted website.

  16. onechickentim says:

    I don’t have any problem with you disputing the GMB press release, this is a straw dog argument, please could you provide a quote from me which says I do? I don’t believe you will find one.

    What I clearly had a problem with is that you have not put forward any firm evidence in support of your argument against the press release, while at the same time continuing to claim that the school was in special measures for longer than it was. Surely you should have the grace to concede that you were incorrect about this and that the school has improved since November 2010?

    There are plenty of conceivable alternatives to selling off half the school, and I would take great issue with your claim that this constitutes saving it in any accurate sense of the word. Neither you, nor the council have provided any evidence that selling school land is the only option. Wandsworth has cash reserves which it is choosing not to use and assets which it is choosing not to sell, instead choosing to decimate the school while claiming this is the only option. If you believe this to be incorrect then please provide me with some detail as to why this is the only option for the school.

    I have provided you with a citation as to the whereabouts of the school yet you’re continue to dispute this again without providing any supporting evidence, that seems rather petty. I’ve been a friend of the school for over 20 years and in that time I’ve never heard staff refer to it as in Roehampton, and much more importantly, I’ve never heard staff have anything but praise for the building. Indeed the staff used to teach the pupils about the architectural heritage of the school buildings and how that was something to be proud of.

    That however, much like your opinion that it is an eyesore, is not relevant next to English Heritage’s Grade II listing of the building. I’m sure you’ll agree that they are better placed to judge the buildings merits than you or I. If you’re prepared to keep an open mind on this point I will happily meet you one afternoon at the school, explain the buildings merits to you and why it should be preserved.

    Two final points: I take great issue with your continued attempts to denigrate the school if you can provide no supporting evidence as to why it is “no longer suitable as a modern school”. With responsible investment from the council the school is more than fit for purpose.

    Lastly, it’s personally insulting to imply that I have done nothing and opposed everything, especially insight of the detail that I’ve provided you with about my attendance at the consultation. Frankly that comes across as a cheap rhetorical point.

  17. Andrea Wilson says:

    Onechickentim – apologies if you feel my disputing the GMB press release is a problem. Elliott was deemed satisfactory 2003, and then in special measures from 2007 until 2010. The Headmaster, governing body, trust and local authority then concluded that best way forward was to invite ARK to help run the school.

    Selling part of the surrounding fields will enable the school to be saved, could you tell me the alternatives to raise the millions needed?

    I have visited the school (more Roehampton than Putney in terms of location), in my humble opinion it’s an eyesore and is no longer suitable as a modern school – the staff I talked to also shared this opinion.
    What are the real alternatives here? Doing nothing and opposing everything ?

  18. onechickentim says:


    There is nothing in my comment to suggest that I agree or disagree with the original post, although I must say that you haven’t provided any supported detail to disprove it. My position is personal and I’m not affiliated with the GMB, the only reason I posted a comment was to correct your inaccuracies, provide first hand reflections on the nature of Wandsworth’s consultation and comment on their long term neglect of the school building. It’s a shame that you haven’t engaged with any of those points.

    It’s not clear to me why you’re seeking clarification as to my position on the OP before conceding that you were incorrect to imply that the school was still under Special Measures. You were inaccurate in your assertion that Special Measures have been in place for “many years” and you should acknowledge this before you accuse others of “twisting the facts”. It’s most alarming that in your subsequent post at 2:05 you appear to claim once again that the school is still in Special Measures despite my earlier correction.

    By continuing to spread this misinformation you are doing harm to Elliott’s reputation when we should all be encouraging and supporting an improving school. Please will you retract your comments and indicate that you do understand that the school has improved since its OFSTED inspection of March 2009?

    Finally I’m not sure how well you actually know Elliott School, its specific issues and architectural significance. You keep saying that the school is in Roehampton, it’s actually in Putney – source: htttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elliott_School_(London) and you seem to have no comment on the way the Council is prepared to forever compromise a listed school site which should be an asset the borough is proud of.

  19. Andrea Wilson says:

    Member of local Wandsworth Community. no vested interest just dislike it when militant trade unions try to twist a story like this to suit their agenda.
    Apologies if you do know Paul Mahoney.
    Perhaps someone else at AAA could ask him to correct his press release as it is a disgrace.

  20. Jane says:

    Andrea: if you are trying to make a point about accuracy, then check yourself. What on earth makes you think that I know Paul Maloney. I don’t. Perhaps you could say what your vested interest is?

  21. Andrea Wilson says:

    Jane – so you agree that the GMB press release and in particular Paul Maloneys statements about money from sale of sports fields (not even agreed yet) are totally incorrect and made up. I believe you know him, maybe you could ask him to correct the untruths in his press statement.

    Parents have not been keen to send their children to Elliott for many years and it has been undersubscribed for several years now. it is located in the west of the borough approx 1 hour commute from the area where primary schools have been expanded to cope with the growing demand in primary places. You cannot force parents to send their children from South Battersea to Roehampton – would you expect your children to commute 2 hours a day to support a school under special measures.

    Perhaps if the GMB actually invested some time coming up with alternatives for Elliott rather than making up political rhetoric there could be an open discussion on this.

  22. Jane says:

    Andrea: a reason for lack of objection to the plans by staff has been that they felt that, if they fought the decision to become an academy, the school would be completely closed. The threat of closure has also made it difficult for the school to attract students, together with the poor state of the buildings and negative publicity.

    Elliott School has had, for all but a few years, a very proud history. However, the buildings have been allowed to fall into disrepair by the Council. Had it been given higher priority in the BSF bid, it might have been one of the two Wandsworth schools still to be benefitting. When it’s exam results started to improve so dramatically did Wandsworth Council issue a press release congratulating the school staff? If they did, they hid it well. Elliott’s exam results now match any of those in the borough.

    The problem Elliott has is that the Council is wedded to Mr Gove’s policy and was happy to make threats about closure of that school, whilst spending money, not on improving the buildings, but on creating even more surplus secondary places by buying the Bolingbroke Hospital to give to ARK and the Neighbourhood Schools Campaign to run as a ‘free’ school.

  23. Andrea Wilson says:

    Onechickentim – are you saying that Paul Baloney’s statements in the GMB press release are correct or do you agree with me that his statements about selling fields to buy land for free schools in Battersea, rich people robbing poor kids etc etc is a total misrepresentation of the facts. This GMB spokesman is using the plight of Elliott to further his own political agenda – a disgrace.

  24. onechickentim says:

    Andrea is also misconstruing the facts: Elliott School has not “spent MANY years in Special Measures”. It was placed in Special Measures in March 2009 but they were lifted a year and a half ago in November 2010. – source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elliott_School_(London)

    The school has been on its current site for 55 years. The 18 months during which it was in Special Measures are an exception and it’s sloppy rhetoric to use them as justification for demolishing and selling such a significant part of the school.

    Prior to Special Measures Elliott was a good school in the borough, and it has improved since. To suggest otherwise does a huge disservice both to it’s teachers, who have worked to return the school to it’s former success, and to the pupils who have attended in recent years. What’s worse, inaccuracies like this together with uncertainty over the school’s future actively discourage parents from considering the school, thus perpetuating a cycle of falling intake.

    The school does need money spending on it to repair the buildings, this was clear 20 years ago when I was a student there, but talk of bringing the school “up to standard” is similarly divisive and wide of the mark. Serious questions must be asked about why the Council has allowed the school buildings to decay to such an extent, especially in light of their Grade II listing.

    I attended a consultation meeting last week and would probably use other words to describe the experience before I said it was “very democratic”.

    The display boards provided by the Council were poorly presented, lacked depth and were missing lots of important detail. Though I didn’t speak to her myself, my understanding is that the representative from ARK was unaware of crucial details about the school. The Council representatives that I did speak to were steadfast in their position, sort only to justify the decision to sell off so much of the school, but had no detail on whether any alternative plans to address Elliott’s issues had been considered. I certainly didn’t leave feeling that much consulting had gone on.

    It’s a shame to descend into talk of propaganda and credibility. It speaks of partisanship and the drawing of predictable lines. We mustn’t lose sight of the real issue here: historic listed school buildings and grounds are under threat because the Council won’t find the money to repair what should be an asset to the Borough. The current scheme completely misunderstands the nature of the school site and sacrifices far too much to pay for the Councils neglect.

  25. Andrea Wilson says:

    Paul Maloney has all his facts wrong on this.

    Elliott Schools Governing Body and Headmaster asked ARK for help. This was a democratic decision.

    There is a consultation going on at the moment as to whether to sell some of the land around Elliott with the proceeds being used to refurbish Elliott School based in Roehampton, again this was decided by the local authority with the governing body. Very democratic.
    The school needs millions spent on it to bring it up to standard. In recent years Elliott School has spent many years in special measures and is now undersubscribed, it is hoped that by raising money this way the school can again become a school local parents can be proud of.

    Badly researched propaganda pieces by the GMB do not help the cause of this site but do serve to undermine its credibility.

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