UNITED KINGDOM, April 28, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — A charity providing the United Kingdom’s only national domestic abuse hotline for LGBT persons went belly up in 2016 because of negligent government agencies, a profligate CEO and lavish overspending, according to a report by the government’s National Audit Office.
Broken Rainbow, which during its 12-year existence received £1.4 million from various government agencies, provided support for LGBT people abused by their partners. Its volunteers fielded more than 450 telephone calls and 849 online contacts a month during its final year of operations.
When the government (and majority-funding source) finally shut it down after a flurry of media exposes, the actual service moved seamlessly to another charity.
Though the report names no names, CEO Jo Harvey Barringer was the focus of damaging media coverage in 2015 and 2016, when Broken Rainbow operated “hand-to-mouth,” according to the report.
Buzzfeed used inside reports from a presumed board or staff member named “Paul.” His leaked comments and documents revealed that Harvey Barringer was running the charity without supervision or a treasurer to provide a second signature on checks.
She kept the operation afloat by squeezing new money from government or private sources to cover, for example, emergency legal expenses run up to fight a harassment charge.
“Grants worth tens of thousands of pounds,” according to the report, “from major funders such as the Home Office and Comic Relief were spent within 24 hours of payment, often being used to cover running costs such as new computers and staff expense.”
In its final two years, while the Home Office gave it £120,000 a year, it overspent hugely, shrinking its reserves by 97 percent “from £80,083 in 2012-13 to £2,307 in 2014-15, despite income increasing by 52 percent over the same period.” The extra spending went to consultants (including the CEO), fundraising, and staff (including the CEO’s “wife”).
Despite draining the reserves and funding increases, the operation’s bank account dwindled at times to a few pennies, according to the whistleblower “Paul.”
In its final year of operation, Broken Rainbow paid Harvey Barringer just over £100,000, though the CEO’s salary was just £57,500. Her “wife” earned another £12,000.
Summarized the report: “The management of Broken Rainbow was chaotic” and did not meet its requirements to report to supervisory bodies. “The charity had few organisational policies in place, and those that were in place were not followed.” It missed filing deadlines and filed incorrect information such as the identities of its directors.
“While appealing for more funds, the charity spent lavishly on iMacs, iPads, £800 train tickets, bouquets of flowers, and catered lunches.”
Buzzfeed gives the details. “At a seminar in February 2015, 14 attendees were treated to goat’s cheese tarts, Parma ham wraps, gravadlax on rye bread, red snapper, and tandoori chicken at a price of £332.50.” A month later, with just £61.48 in the bank, “a staff meeting cost the charity £5.10 on bananas alone. Another £25 went on a fruit platter.”
The National Audit Report indicates board members knew they were not up to the task of supervision, but their appeal to responsible government agencies for help went unheeded. Ultimately, the chaos came to an end when “Paul’s” leak prompted those agencies to act.