The SKT Welfare charity has assured donors that it is efficient, transparent and accountable after malpractice accusations were levelled against it by its former patron Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi.
In February the prominent Syrian scholar said that the Dewsbury-based charity displayed a lack of transparency and accountability, inept governance and suffered from mismanagement. He also called into question its 100 per cent donation policy.
As a result of the accusations SKT Welfare USA has disassociated itself from its British counterpart.
But last week SKT Welfare issued the following statement:
“SKT Welfare is a transparent charity, which prides itself on its work and is humbled by the trust placed in it by valued communities, both in the UK and overseas.
“It is with this in mind that we are today releasing the below statement which addresses various concerns raised of late.
“SKT Welfare supporters and volunteers work tirelessly to deploy aid in zones stricken by humanitarian crises. The locations are some of the most perilous on Earth, including Syria and Bangladesh.
“To provide some context on its work to date, SKT Welfare has delivered water to more than 7 million people, winter packs to just over 650,000 people, and bread and provisions to 10 million children and adults. We know it is just a fraction of what is needed, but we are so proud of our on-going aid efforts.
“Recently, our work has also gained the trust of the UN, which gave SKT Welfare vital funds to carry out work in Syria on its behalf. This is yet another achievement of which we are proud.
“It adds to countless other projects we deliver on, including the Rohingya emergency relief programme, where over 120,000 people have benefitted through three separate SKT Welfare deployments.
“Thousands have been helped by our Pakistan water filtration plants/pumps and eye care programmes, our Palestine water projects mean 1000’s benefit from clean drinking water on a daily basis, education programmes in Jordan and Turkey, deployment aid programmes across many countries, the Al-Huda hospital in Syria which treats 400 people daily, Emergency Aid Containers; and our Springs of Hope orphanage project in Turkey which houses around 150 orphans.
“Today our teams are on the ground in Ghouta, delivering baby packs and food parcels.
“None of this would be possible without the support of our donors and volunteers, who have put their trust in us with each donation. Hundreds of donors a year become volunteers and to date almost 750 volunteers have gone out to deliver aid by hand with SKT around the world.
“We believe the charity belongs to those who support and donate to it, as well as those who receive its aid.
“We take very seriously any misleading claims and untruths regarding our 100% donation policy. We have always been transparent that Gift Aid – the scheme, which enables charities to claim an extra 25p on every £1 donated – allows us to cover the administration costs of the charity. This means that every penny of the donations we receive can directly benefit those in need. We absolutely honour this and the proof is in our filed accounts.
“From 2013 to 2016 we have accrued £939,000 in gift Aid and £282,109 in recovered costs, which accumulates to £1221109, our costs in the same period amounted to £1180162, which gives us a surplus of £40,947.
“In 2015, the charity underwent various changes and we did not receive as much Gift Aid – it came in at £57,387 and recovered costs were £129,511, leaving a £228,851 deficit. However, we recovered this in 2016 with £127901 on recovered costs £459,848 in Gift Aid, on which there is a three-year deadline to claim.
“To date, largely due to Gift Aid – which would not be possible without donations from supporters – we have accrued the surplus in Gift Aid over this period; with figures for 2017 looking to show the charity is in excellent health to continue our work.
“We are open on these figures. However, some concerns raised are said to have come from a review of the charity. We state today that we have not been made aware of any review nor have we been asked to pass on any documentation to be examined. As always, we are very happy to work with governing bodies should they wish to review our practices or accounts.
“There have also been concerns aired over the Trustees – at present, SKT has three trustees, down from the five it had in October 2017, when one moved abroad, and the other stepped down due to ill health. We welcome any applications to the Board from people who can add experience and knowledge.
“In the days since the concerns were raised, we have sought legal counsel and have also written to the Charity Commission to alert them of the situation. We must underline again – SKT Welfare is a transparent charity, which is governed by UK charity law. Our accounts are verified and audited by independent auditors.
“Moreover, our accounts are available on the Charity Commission website for any member of the public to see and analyse. Our procurement policies stand up to scrutiny and we are fully compliant with UN guidelines. SKT Welfare is open to any independent review and will cooperate fully.
“At a time when other charities have been criticised for not taking correct, accountable action when needed, we believe we have acted entirely properly, and we are stronger for it.
“Our supporters can rest assured that our programmes continue, and we thank them for their ongoing support.”