British Council statement on credit card claims by Taxpayers’ Alliance
05 January 2012
The following is the British Council's response to claims by the Taxpayers' Alliance about the extent of the organisation's credit card expenditure.
A British Council spokesperson said:
“Our work in English teaching, education and arts builds valuable relationships for the UK in 110 countries around the world, so it naturally involves international travel and hosting senior visitors. We have clear policies about corporate card use and do not tolerate their misuse. This corporate card expenditure represents 0.5% of our total income, of which 70% is earned through business activities such as teaching English and 30% comes from a government grant. All our work supports the UK’s economy and international reputation.
“We ask our staff to use corporate cards as they are an efficient way to make payments for running our programmes on behalf of the UK. These cards are used extensively in well-run private sector organisations as a lower cost alternative to processing supplier’s payments and invoices.
“Like most organisations that receive some public money, our funding is being reduced by 26% by 2015 and we have been both cutting costs and earning new income so we can continue our work for Britain. Practical steps include flying staff and visitors economy or premium economy, not business class.”
About the British Council
- The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide.
- We work in over 100 countries in the arts, education and English and in 2010/11 we engaged face to face with 30 million people and reached 578 million. We have 6,800 staff worldwide.
- Our total turnover in 2010/11 was £693 million, of which our grant-in-aid from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office was £190 million. The remainder was generated through trading activities such as English language teaching. For every £1 of taxpayer money invested we earn £2.65 in additional income.
- Research by Chatham House recently placed our core activities of English language, education and culture as the top three factors in supporting the UK’s overseas reputation.
- The trust generated annually for the UK by the British Council’s activities has an estimated lifetime value of £1.2 billion for the UK economy - over £6 for every £1 invested by UK taxpayers.
- The British Council helps attract over 400,000 international students to the UK every year. International student recruitment brings £9.8 billion to the UK economy per annum.
- Our provision of UK exams and qualifications are worth £50 million in export earnings for UK exam boards.
- We are the National Agency for large-scale EU mobility programmes in education and training – Comenius, Erasmus and Youth in Action – enabling 200,000 UK young people each year to gain new international experiences and skills funded by the EU.
- Creative industries contribute £17 billion to the UK economy each year. The British Council promotes UK arts and creative entrepreneurship worldwide.
- In the next two years, major UK cultural seasons led by the British Council in China (UK Now) and Brazil (UKBrasil), will increase knowledge and awareness of the UK amongst millions of people in these key emerging markets
Benefits of using credit cards:
As an international organisation, with more than 100 offices and 7,000 staff, the use of credit cards can provide efficiency benefits for the British Council as follows:
- A single credit card payment per month significantly reduces the time, administrative effort and therefore cost of processing large numbers of individual payments.
- Processing of credit card transactions can be centralised, resulting in efficiency benefits.
- Suppliers may offer discounts where cards are used as the method of payment.
- It reduces the number of travel and subsistence advance payments required.
- Every year commission is received based on the usage of the card and so the greater the Council’s usage of its credit cards the greater this payment will be.
For more information contact the British Council Press Office on +44 (0)207 389 4268/4889/4871