The Remembrance Day Rip Off: Only Fraction of £15 Poppy Goes to British Legion

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By Dominic Gover | November 10, 2012 4:03 AM EST

Poppy on sale is loved by shoppers

The generosity of the British public is being exploited by charities, with only a small percentage of the cost of certain purchases going to good causes.

Millions of people all over the country are wearing red poppies with pride, to commemorate the fallen of World Wars I and II and also those Armed Forces personnel killed in modern conflicts such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Poppy donations also help fund treatment for those injured in recent conflicts.

Retailer Marks & Spencer is selling an enamel poppy broach - M&S's fastest-selling jewellery item of all time - for £15.

However a woman who bought the broach at the M&S branch in the Westfield shopping centre, Shepherd's Bush, told the IBTimes UK that she was shocked to discover - hidden in the small print - that only 30 percent of the purchase price went towards aiding veterans of the Armed Servcies.

Pauline Katz, of north London, said:

"During the preceding days I had passed many a poppy seller but had not had a chance to stop and buy one. That weekend however, was the anniversary of the death of a family friend and ex-soldier who had fought in the war in Burma. He was also dedicated to raising funds for charity up until his death."

"The cost of the broach was £15 and although it seemed expensive I bought it because I assumed that the majority of the money would be going to the British Legion.

"But when I got home I read the very small print on the label which said that only 30pc of this cost would be going to them. If I had known this in advance I would have preferred to have given the money directly to the British Legion."

M&S told IBTimes UK the company does not make a single penny from selling the broaches on behalf of the British Legion. A spokesman said that the 70pc of the money which does not go to charity is used to cover costs, such as shipping the item to stores around the country.

An M&S spokesman said: "We are very disappointed and surprised to hear there's been a complaint. We are selling the poppies because it is a good cause. We don't make anything on the broach, all profits goes to the British Legion."

However, charity experts agree that the M&S deal is, in fact,  comparatively generous when set against products such as Eggs for Soldiers, a box of eggs which generates donations for the Help for Heroes military charity.

Of each box of Eggs for Soldiers sold, 15 pence is donated to Help for Heroes. However the purchase price of the eggs is £1.99 - meaning the amount which goes to charity is just 7.5 percent.

Indeed, English charity law requires that only a tiny 1 percent of an item sold with charity approval, is required as a donation.

Charity experts agree that if you want to guarantee the majority of your hard-earned donation is actually used for a charitable purpose, then give cash.

The British Legion was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

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