Details of the amounts that the company that owns Luton Airport gives to organisations in Luton as charitable donations have been made available to the public.
London Luton Airport Ltd (LLAL) is the company that owns Luton Airport. It is in turn owned by Luton Borough Council which effectively means that the airport is in public ownership. This being the case the income generated by the airport is used to provide benefits to the people of Luton.
There are essentially two ways this income is distributed. The profits made by LLAL are paid to its shareholder, Luton Borough Council, and so form part of the overall resources available to the Council to spend on public services. But LLAL also makes a range of significant charitable donations to organisations in Luton. This amounted to £15.995 million in 2013.
Whilst the income gained directly by the Council has formed part of its annual budget which is discussed by Councillors and reported to the public, the openness and accountability around the increasing amount handed out to charities has been a bit lacking. But the good news seems to be that this is changing and LLAL is making an effort to be more open about its activities. Details about its charitable giving, including its community funding policy and the proposed donations for 2014/15, have made available on its website.
Note that LLAL is not the company that operates the airport. London Luton Airport Operations Limited (LLAOL) has a concession agreement with LLAL to manage the airport on its behalf until 2031.
According to the information made available LLAL makes its charitable donations through four programmes;
- The Luton Community Fund which provides small grants to support community and voluntary activity in Luton.
- The Near Neighbour Fund which provides small grants to support community and voluntary organisations in the communities outside the Borough of Luton that are affected by activities at the airport. Which I assume mostly means those affected by the noise.
- The Enterprise Fund which provides small grants to support the start-up of small businesses in Luton.
- The Partnership Fund, which is by far the biggest programme, which provides a significant level of funding to ‘partner’ organisations to support them in delivering the various outcomes identified in Luton’s community strategy.
The proposal for 2014/15 is for the Partnership Fund to distribute £16.404 million. How this will be divided between the different themes in the community strategy can be seen in the chart below.
The reason that the ‘Leisure & Culture’ theme gets the largest pot of money is that this includes the two organisations that receive the most funding. These are Active Luton, which runs Luton’s swimming pools and sports centres, and Luton Culture, which runs the town’s libraries, museums, and arts venues. (A little declaration of interest; I am a member of the Board of Trustees of Luton Culture.)
This second chart highlights the most significant individual grants proposed for 2014/15.
I think that it is important that this information is available and that people can find it easily. These sums are significant ones and so I think greater public understanding and scrutiny of how the money is being used can only be a good thing.
The full details of the charitable donations that London Luton Airport Limited are proposing for the coming financial year as part of its Partnership Fund can be found on this page on their website.