How are we funded?
Our initial running costs at IMPRESS are almost £1m per year. These will rise as our activities expand. Our long-term business plan shows how we will move towards a diverse business model with income from a range of activities.
As Walter Merricks CBE, Chair of IMPRESS, said in a public speech at the LSE on 20 January 2016, ‘we are not and never will be beholden to anyone, and we can never be in a position where our funding could be removed if we offended a funder.’
Therefore, we welcomed the establishment of the Independent Press Regulation Trust (IPRT), a registered charity, which exists to promote high standards of journalism. The IPRT is able to accept donations from anyone who wishes to support independent press regulation, and it can award grants to any organisation which shares this charitable purpose.
In 2015, we entered into a long-term agreement with the IPRT for £3.8m in funding over the next four years. We understand that, at this point, the IPRT’s funding has been guaranteed by the Alexander Mosley Charitable Trust, but that other funders may contribute to the Trust in future. This grant is enough to cover our core costs for this period whilst we develop our income from regulatory fees.
In our research and development phase, the IMPRESS Project was supported by grants and donations from many sources. Individual members of the public contributed to a crowdfunding campaign. We were supported by trusts and foundations including the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, the Andrew Wainwright Reform Trust and the Alexander Mosley Charitable Trust. And we received generous donations from private individuals such as JK Rowling and David Sainsbury.
However, as a regulator, it is important for us to put a firewall in place between IMPRESS and any donors. The IPRT grant can only be withdrawn in exceptional circumstances (for instance, if IMPRESS goes bankrupt) and there is no capacity for any donor to exert influence on IMPRESS. We believe that these arrangements are the best way to ensure that we are capable of fulfilling our obligations to the public, whilst protecting our independence.
In the words of the Charity Tribunal: ‘If [an independent] regulator cannot be established by the Government for constitutional reasons and ought not to be established by the industry itself for reasons of propriety and public confidence, then the charity sector is uniquely placed to be able to offer both the mechanism and the means by which a benefit to the community as a whole can be achieved.’