April 30, 2018 / 5:48 PM / a year ago

Sex scandals and Brexit lower Britain's global charity ranking

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Sex scandals in the aid sector and the prospect of Brexit have made Britain the least favourable country in western Europe for philanthropy, new research showed on Monday.

Britain scored the lowest among northern and western European countries in a study by Indiana University that assessed how easily people can donate to social causes and institutions across 79 countries.

“Philanthropy is playing an increasingly visible role in solving global challenges,” lead author and economist Una Osili told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“But when the political environment is unstable or uncertain that can impede philanthropy,” said Osili, describing her research as the most comprehensive report on global philanthropy.

Osili said the uncertainty triggered by Britain’s decision to leave the European Union and the recent sex scandals that have rocked the country’s aid sector had contributed to Britain’s score of 4.18 out of 5.

Topping the list were Finland (4.80), the Netherlands (4.80) and the United States (4.77). Countries in the Middle East and northern Africa had the lowest scores overall.

According to a September survey by Social Enterprise UK, optimism among British social enterprises had fallen sharply ahead of Brexit due to fears of loss of European funding, trade and labour.

“There’s some uncertainty with how the Brexit policy changes will impact charities,” Osili said.

“But there are also these concerns about the recent high profile scandals, and more calls for more scrutiny into what’s going on in the sector. I think that’s why the UK scores lower,” Osili said.

Charities in the aid sector were put under the spotlight earlier this year after an investigation by the Times newspaper found that some Oxfam staff paid for sex with prostitutes in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.

Save the Children UK was criticised over its handling of allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment against senior staff including former chief executive Justin Forsyth.

An exclusive survey by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in February found more than 120 staff from leading global charities were fired or lost their jobs in 2017 over sexual misconduct.

Reporting by Lin Taylor @linnytayls, Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian issues, conflicts, land and property rights, modern slavery and human trafficking, gender equality, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org

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