Institute of Economic Affairs in car crash interview when asked to explain sources of funding

"Nobody can go on your website and see who funds your organisation”.


The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), a think tank closely linked to Prime Minister Liz Truss and which applauded the ideas contained within the disastrous mini-budget that has resulted in turmoil on the financial markets, endured a roasting on LBC yesterday when asked to come clean over the sources of its funding.

The IEA, describes itself as an ‘educational research institute’, which ‘furthers the dissemination of free market thinking’. Liz Truss has spoken at IEA events more than any other politician in over the past 12 years, with IEA director general Mark Littlewood viewing Truss as someone who is ‘genuinely engaged in the ideas rather than just occasionally turning up to say a few warm words at a Christmas party’.

The IEA has also previously been issued with a formal legal warning by the Charity Commission after using its resources to campaign for a hard Brexit. The think tank also has considerable connections to the Net Zero Scrutiny Group, a group of backbench Conservative MPs, including former government ministers, which opposes many of the government’s net zero policies.

Considered one of the most influential think tanks in conservative circles, it has also been revealed that it received funding from oil giant BP in a 2018 undercover investigation by Unearthed. DeSmog reports: “IEA director Mark Littlewood told an undercover reporter that the oil company uses access facilitated by the think tank to press ministers on issues ranging from environmental and safety standards to British tax rates. When contacted for comment, the IEA admitted it had received funding from BP every year since 1967.”

With Truss now prime minister and increased scrutiny taking place over her policies and ideas, the IEA is once again in the spotlight.

Emily Carver, head of media for the IEA was asked by Iain Dale on LBC who funded the think tanks research on planning reform. To which Carver replied: “I have no idea”. She then claimed people could have a look at the ‘who funds you page’ on the its website but conceded it gave a ‘little bit of detail’.

Carver went on to claim ‘think tanks’ like Oxfam don’t reveal their sources of funding, before being reminded Oxfam was nothing like the IEA.

Adam Bienkov of Byline Times went on to highlight how there’s no breakdown of funders on the IEA’s website, before he told Carver: “Nobody can go on your website and see who funds your organisation”.

Carver then went on to insist that “fundamentally we protect the privacy of our donors’.

Isn’t it time such an influential think tank, whose ideas have sway in Downing Street, was more transparent about where it gets its money from?

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

Picture: Dominic Raab, addressing the Institute for Economic Affairs’ birthday party. Image, Youtube

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