The Royal National Lifeboat Institution came under fire yesterday for spending millions of pounds on projects in foreign countries –including buying burkinis for Muslim women in Africa – while slashing over 100 jobs in the UK.
Donations are being spent on swimsuits for devout Muslim women in Tanzania and on funding creches in Bangladesh that the RNLI claims helps to prevent drownings overseas.
But the charity’s £189,000-a-year chief executive Mark Dowie warned last week that it's ‘facing some major challenges’ after making a loss of £6.3 million last year and announcing 135 job cuts.
Demand for the RNLI’s services is at record levels, with its lifeboats launched 8,964 times in the UK and Ireland last year.
However, the charity intends to increase its annual spend on foreign projects by £400,000 this year. Its overseas spending has now soared from £1.13 million to £3.3 million over the past 5 years.
Tory MP Nigel Evans, who sits on the Commons International Development Committee, said: ‘The fact the RNLI are cutting staff in the UK but boosting spending on these international projects begs the question of what the priority of the organisation is? They're risking the reputation of the charity.
‘I'd say 99% of the British public giving money to them haven't the faintest idea it’s being diverted to projects overseas.’
Andrew Bridgen, a Tory MP, told The Times: ‘It's the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, not the Royal International Lifeboat Institution.’
The RNLI, founded in 1824, has been accused of becoming obsessed with political correctness in recent years, leading to resignations among volunteers