Oxfam will not use legacy windfall to cover income shortfall

After the death of businessman Richard Cousins and his family in a seaplane crash, it emerged that the international relief charity would be the beneficiary of an estimated £41m bequest

Oxfam House
Oxfam House

Oxfam will not use an expected £41m legacy windfall to cover shortfalls in income or spend on operational costs, the charity has said.

It emerged last month that the businessman Richard Cousins, who died in a seaplane crash near Sydney on New Year’s Eve, had planned to leave the majority of his wealth in trust to his two sons, but they also died in the crash along with Cousins’ fiancée Emma Bowden and her 11-year-old daughter.

A clause in Cousins’ will said that in the event he and his sons all died together Oxfam should become the main beneficiary of his estate, reports said.

A spokeswoman for Oxfam told Third Sector today that, although it was still too early in the probate process to confirm the exact amount of money involved or how it would be spent, it would not be used to cover recent shortfalls in funding at the charity.

"We are in discussion with the Cousins family and our trustees about how best to use the very generous bequest to make the biggest difference for people living in poverty," she said.

"We will not be using it to make up for shortfalls in income or on organisational running costs."

It emerged in June that the effects of this year’s safeguarding scandal meant the charity was seeking to make savings of £16m.

The charity had previously said the scandal meant it had to make about 100 redundancies in the UK.

Oxfam received legacies totalling £19.8m in a total income of £408.6m in the year to the end of March 2017, its latest accounts show.

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