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Ben appeals to industry to ease financial crisis

Ben, the Motor and Allied Trade's Benelovent Fund, is banking on a positive industry response to resolve its “critical” financial position, said chief executive Geoffrey Atkinson.

The fund, which marked its 95th anniversary this week, needs £8.5m a year to carry out its work. The income is split 50:50 betwen donations and money from local authorities.

Mr Atkinson said: “There was a pronounced flattening of income early this year and the state of the new car market is only part of the problem. “Mergers, acquisitions and redundancy programmes have all taken their toll. Change, rationalisation and different marketing techniques will continue and accelerate in the coming years. “Ben could begin to lose ground unless we take positive steps to propel the fund into a much stronger future.” This month, Mr Atkinson is making a series of presentations to groups including members of the SMMT car committee. “The reaction has been encouraging with great efforts in some sectors to improve involvement with the fund,” he said. “Ben is at a road junction. We can either turn down a side road and continue to be the best-kept secret in the industry. Or we can take the main road and begin to achieve our full potential.

“If we are forced to take the side road to mediocrity then, like other businesses, we will be looking at the beginning of the end.”

Mr Atkinson added: “The Chancellor's decision to add 10% to payroll donations for the next three years will give us a much needed head start in the race to introduce more donors.”

  • Ben is appealing for 700 volunteers to help raise funds at the Birmingham motor show (October 18-29) at the NEC. Contact Elaine Readings (01344 294722).
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