This page contains information about the Inter Faith Network for the UK's sources of funding.
The Inter Faith Network for the UK (IFN) was founded in 1987 to: “advance public knowledge and mutual understanding of the teachings, traditions and practices of the different faith communities in Britain including awareness both of their distinctive features and their common ground and to promote good relations between persons of different faiths.”
IFN’s Vision is of “a society where there is understanding of the diversity and richness of the faith communities in the UK and the contribution that they make; and where we live and work together with mutual respect and shared commitment to the common good.”
In its early years IFN was mainly funded through pump-priming core grants from charitable trusts. As inter faith issues moved up the public agenda, trusts and others increasingly suggested that Government should be providing some of the funding for IFN’s work and it became harder to gain trust funding. From 2001, IFN therefore sought, and received, grant funding from Government. Since that time, funding from Government, under successive administrations, towards IFN’s work programme (for different grant duration periods and of varying levels) has been a vital component of funding, alongside other kinds of support such as donations from individuals, trusts, faith communities and other bodies and membership fees. A graph showing IFN’s income from Government grants against its total income over the last five years can be seen on the Charity Commission website.
On 31 March 2023 IFN received a letter from an official at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) saying that further funding would not be given, from April 2023, to IFN. Many letters were sent from a wide range of organisations and individuals to Ministers and MPs about the importance of IFN’s work and, in response, a number of MPs and peers took action, through such routes as Written Questions, contact with DLUHC, or through direct approach to the Secretary of State.
On 7 July 2023 a letter was received from DLUHC saying that, following a review by Ministers of funded programmes across the Communities and Integration portfolio, funding was now being offered to IFN. The funding offered is in the form of access to 2022/23 underspend plus some new funding. It is for use from July 2023 to March 2024. It is subject to a Grant Funding Agreement (GFA) and other conditions.
However, as of the end of December 2023, a Grant Funding Agreement had not been provided and the funds could not therefore be accessed.
Government support for IFN was the subject of an Adjournment Debate in the House of Commons on 10 January. The Hansard record of the debate can be found here. IFN’s Board has continued to operate, with careful oversight of IFN's finances, on the basis of the reasonable expectation that a GFA will be agreed and the offered funding (vital to the planned and budgeted for work) made available, subject to the terms outlined in the letter of offer.
On 19 January, IFN received a letter from the Secretary of State noting that he was ‘minded’ to withdraw the offered new funding, because it had been brought to his attention that IFN has a Trustee who is a member of the Muslim Council of Britain, and that this posed a reputational risk to Government.
A statement (available here) issued on behalf of the Board of IFN on 24 January addresses the situation, including through a link to points from a letter from IFN’s Co-Chairs of 22 January which responds in detail to the points in the Secretary of State’s letter.
On 29 January, the Department let IFN know that the 2022-23 underspend could be accessed. There remains no new indication of whether the fresh funding toward work from July 2023 to March 2024 will be forthcoming.
When the present offer of funding was made last July, the letter said that funding would not be given beyond March 2024. While IFN continues to fundraise, the survival of its work would be unlikely without some Government support.