Royal-backed fund on brink of closure
By Tim Relf
THE failure of government promises of support to materialise has left one of the leading foot-and-mouth emergency funds on the brink of closure.
The ARC-Addington Fund has helped more than 12,500 people since the crisis began, but it could run out of money within days if £1.68m of "match-funding" is not paid.
While there have been assurances from Labour MPs that the money has been unlocked, 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."
He said the government agreed to match private donations made to the fund until June 30.
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 – the brainchild of the Archbishop of Canterbury – has paid out more than £6.7m in emergency aid, after seeing its coffers swollen by 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 RASEs Arthur Rank Centre, also received the backing of Prince Charles earlier this year. He named it one of the six farming-related charities to which he gave £500,000.
But by the end of last week, ARC-Addington had little more than £1m left. "We are spending £90,000/day," said Mr Bell.
Farmers have relied on the ARC-Addinggton fund since the crisis began. After receiving £500 fron the fund, one West Country producer said: "We would have been staring disaster in the face had it not been for the Addington fund." *