So far this financial year, members of the UK public have donated nearly £900,000 to the government in an effort to boost public spending or help pay down the national debt, Treasury figures reveal.
In all, there have been 11 contributions made for a grand total of £898,539.80, which is a drop in the bucket compared to the UK’s £1.2 trillion in national debt.
Although the donations will do little to help lower the nation’s debt, it was the highest government donation figure since 2010, when the government received £1.08m in public donations.
The largest public contribution on record was made during the height of the economy in 2000-01. It came in the form of a £2m bequest to help pay off the national debt.
Supplied via a freedom of information request, the figures show that £897,000 in donations came in the form of bequests, while unclassified payments and gifts only account for £604.48 of the donation total.
Included in this year’s donation figures is a £520,000 donation made by Joan Edwards, a former nurse, to “the government of the day.” Initially, Edwards’ donation was split between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives to be used for party spending. However, after much scrutiny, both parties agreed to give the money to the Treasury.
David Cameron originally said the donation money would go towards paying down the national debt, but the £420,576 initially received by the Tories has been the only money spent on that cause. The £99,423 received by the Lib Dems, on the other hand, went towards general spending.
According to a Lib Dem spokeswoman, Edwards did not make any specification as to how the money was to be used, so the party made the decision to use it for general government spending.
“It makes no difference whether it’s used for paying off the debt or for spending because the government spends and borrows all the time” said Jonathan Portes, the director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.
He continued, “This is a fairly minority pursuit and that’s not surprising. People have already paid taxes on the money and most people think they can do a better job of allocating it themselves.”
Recently, a spokesperson for Trussell Trust, which establishes and supports food banks throughout Britain, stated that Edwards’ £520,000 donation could have paid for 370,000 meals for struggling Britons.