Diane Abbott MP

‘Not a party’: Diane Abbott MP defends awards ceremony spending

Diane Abbott spent virtually all her education charity’s annual budget on an awards ceremony event in Parliament that cost nearly £30,000, the organisation’s accounts have revealed.

Despite being a small education charity, the Diane Abbott Foundation spent more than 80 per cent of its annual budget funding the London Schools and the Black Child (LSBC) awards in Westminster in the year 2013/14, documents filed with Companies House show.

According to the LSBC website, this event, at which 24 black learners were honoured for their achievements in secondary through to higher education, included a “star-studded line-up of presenters”.

The charity’s donors included City law firm Linklaters, which gave £10,000 to the Diane Abbott Foundation, and Prudential, which gave £25,000.

The Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP had faced a possible penalty after her self-titled charitable foundation failed to meet accounting deadlines.

The Diane Abbott Foundation has now submitted accounts covering 2013/14 to Companies House.

They show that during this period, £29,072.56 was spent on hosting the LSBC awards – a total that included £700 spent on artist performance fees, nearly £2,000 spent on prizes for award winners, £3,112.97 on marketing and promotion and around £12,500 for room hire and catering.

Abbott has run the awards for 10 years “as part of a programme to raise aspirations amongst urban young people”.

She said: “Every shortlisted candidate has an inspirational story.”

A statement from the MP’s office said a team of volunteers wrote to every secondary school, college and university on London seeking nominations for academic achievement at GCSE, A-Level and degree level, adding that a shortlist had been drawn up from a list of hundreds of applications.

The statement said that the initiative had support from across the political spectrum and added that “far from being a party, this event largely consists of audio-visual presentations about the young people and then the presentation of the awards”.

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