The RNLI has highlighted it only spends 2% of its income on overseas projects, following several critical reports in the tabloid press
A charity has hit back at press reports which question the amount of funding it spends on international projects.
The Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) faced criticism in the tabloid press this week for spending funds of overseas projects whilst making cuts in the UK.
The charity’s chief executive Mark Dowie warned last week that it is facing some major challenges after making a loss of £6.3 million last year, with 135 jobs set to go.
Reports in the Daily Mail and the Times highlighted the charity’s spending on international projects, such as funding crèches in Bangladesh and an initiative that provides swimsuits for Muslim women in Tanzania.
In response, the RNLI has said that it only spends 2% of its annual expenditure on international drowning prevention activity, and specifically addresses the two projects questioned in the reports.
A spokesman said: “Providing the very best search and rescue service in the UK and Ireland remains our priority but we are also proud to use our expertise, knowledge and influence to help others save lives across the world, particularly in countries where drowning rates are high.
“Since 2012 there has been a steady increase in international expenditure that reflects the increase in the number of projects the team are involved in. However, all areas of RNLI work – including our international budget – are being looked at and we are reducing costs wherever we can as part of an organisational wide programme of activity to get us back to living within our means.”
The statement also responded to claims the RNLI has become “obsessed with political correctness in recent years”, in response to advertising for a £42,000 a year safeguarding officer to promote 'health, safety and wellbeing, following several high-profile instances of staff being sacked following incidents deemed inappropriate.
The spokesman continued: “As an emergency service, the RNLI must adhere to the very highest standards of safety and behave in a way that meets the expectations of a modern emergency responder. And as a charity, we take our ethical and legal responsibilities very seriously.
“This means that we expect our staff and volunteers to behave appropriately towards each other, supporters and members of the public. We do not consider this political correctness.
“We are a charity that our volunteers, supporters and those we rescue can trust to do the right thing – whether that’s rescuing those in peril, keeping our volunteers safe or making sure anyone who is part of the RNLI feels welcome and valued. And we’re proud of our volunteers’ professionalism and our organisation’s commitment to being a modern emergency service and principled charity.”
The RNLI operates more than 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands.
Since it was founded back in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved more than 142,700 lives.