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Barings' crash hits charities

Trustees of the Baring Foundation, Britain's biggest corporate donor to charity, are to meet next week to discuss future sponsorship of educational schemes and charities.

The foundation, which was not acquired by Dutch-owned ING during the take-over of Barings - the City's oldest merchant bank - following its collapse last week, faces a massive reduction in annual income from Pounds 13.7 million to Pounds 2m, radically affecting future backing of the sector.

It is committed to honour 63 grants to education worth more than Pounds 2.5m - many run for up to three years - but thereafter many organisations will be forced to find other backers.

Last year, the foundation gave more than Pounds 13 million to 957 wide-ranging charities, with a particular focus upon London, the North-east and Merseyside. It also made sizeable donations to organisations including the Mental Health Foundation and Oxfam, and Cambridge colleges.

Donations to education agreed last year ranged from Pounds 3,000 to the North East Regional Training Group to a Pounds 200,000 grant to London University's Institute of Education child development department.

Director David Carrington said the foundation's one-off Pounds 10 million donation from ING would make it possible to continue to finance currently agreed bids from universities, interest groups and other educational organisations, some for the next two years.

"However, we are unable to make any commitments to applications which are still pending," he said. "We will need to have a major rethink before making any future decisions. The trustees want to take their time and it will be several months before we go public on our priorities."

John Wright is the administrator of the Independent Panel for Special Education Advice, which was given a Pounds 60,000 grant for three years. The grant was to help cover the running costs of the group's soon to be launched advocacy service representing parents of children with special needs at tribunals.

He said: "If Barings had been unable to fund the project now, it would have left us in severe difficulties. There is an enormous need for our service, as already we are being besieged by parents asking for help and advice with appeals and tribunals."

However, he was pragmatic about finding future funding: "We are constantly looking around for sources of support and would do so if the foundation was unable to continue help us any further."

Deborah Cooper, director of Skill, the National Bureau for Students with Disabilities, said Barings' three-year Pounds 42,000 donation for work on graduate recruitment, had been "invaluable".

"When we heard of the crash it was a real blow - the way Barings has funded us has been exemplary. It is very unusual to receive funding for three years and this has enabled us to forward plan."

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