Royal-backed fund at risk of closure

13 July 2001

Royal-backed fund at risk of closure

By Tim Relf

A LEADING foot-and-mouth emergency fund has warned that it is on the brink of closure after government promises of support failed to materialise.

The ARC-Addington Fund helped over 12,500 people since the crisis began, but could run out of money within days if 1.68m of “match-funding” is not paid.

Labour MPs have said that the money has been unlocked, but attempts to secure it had so far been “stone-walled”, said fund manager Ian Bell.

“It would be a disgrace if this money does not reach the fund.”

Mr Bell said that the government agreed to match private donations made to the fund until 30 June.

It was up to each UK administration to match donations, but so far only the English had paid anything, he said.

The English Treasury has paid over 2m but owes another 280,000.

The Welsh Assembly owes the fund just over 1m, the Ulster adminstration 236,000 and the Scottish Executive 167,000.

“We are desperate for it. It will be no good sending it the day after we close,” said Mr Bell. “We need it now.”

The fund has paid out more than 6.7m in emergency aid, after donations from individuals, companies, charities, churches and newspapers.

“The response from the public has been absolutely phenomenal, which makes you more annoyed to be let down by the government,” said Mr Bell.

The fund, which works through the Royal Agricultural Society of England, Arthur Rank Centre, also received the backing of Prince Charles earlier this year.

It was one of six farming-related charities to which the Prince gave 500,000.

But by the end of last week, ARC-Addington had little more than 1m left. Mr Bell added: “We are spending 90,000/day.”

Farmers have relied on the ARC-Addington fund since the crisis began.

After receiving 500, one West Country producer said: “We would have been staring disaster in the face had it not been for the Addington Fund.”


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