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Psychics given government grant to help relatives contact the dead
By Luke Salkeld
Last updated at 6:45 PM on 26th March 2009

Deciding who receives business funding can be a complicated task for the Department of Work and Pensions.

But as a pair of self proclaimed psychics, Paul and Deborah Rees must have seen them coming.

And when the mediums applied for a grant to set up a company helping people contact 'the other side', their palms were duly crossed with silver - to the tune of £4,500 of tax payers' money.

The clairvoyant couple have won the public money to help finance their 'Accolade Academy of Psychic and Mediumistic Studies' as part of the Government's Want2Work job creation scheme.
Deborah and Paul Rees

Psychics Deborah and Paul Rees have been awarded a £4,500 government grant to teach people how to contact the dead

Today critics branded the award a 'disgrace' and said public money should not be spent on 'hocus pocus' business ideas at a time when thousands are losing their jobs.

But Mr Rees and his 37-year-old wife, defended the public funding for their psychic school.

Mr Rees, 40,  said: 'People who feel their tax money has been wasted should remember that if they'd lost a child they would go to a medium to get peace that their loved one has passed safely and is in a better place.
James Purnell

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions James Purnell: His department approved the grant

'People who have lost mums and dads or a child deserve all the respect in the world in their grieving and deserve a medium who can give them respect.

'Our job is to provide substantial evidence to bring ease to people's grieving - and that's what I would say to people who query the mere £4,500.'

The couple told how they battle through 'a lot of red tape' to get the department of Work and Pensions Want2Work grant - designed to help start up businesses.

He said: 'We put a business plan together and they could see they were giving a grant to two individuals who are very serious about what they're doing.

'They hadn't invested in psychics before so we really had to prove ourselves.'

The couple, who have been working as mediums for five years, said they were surprised at getting the Government grant aimed at setting up new businesses.

Mr Rees, a father-of-two who worked as an upholsterer for 17 years, said: 'We were surprised we were able to get money purely because we were the first psychics.'

The couple run the academy from their home and say the cash will be spent on printing, advertising and website costs.

The pair charge £65 per workshop in Bridgend, South Wales, which are 'designed to bring greater understanding of your awareness by using a process to develop your mediumship'.

But Conservative Welsh Assembly member Jonathan Morgan said: 'It is an utter disgrace that taxpayers money is being wasted and given to an organisation that believes it can teach people how to communicate with the dead.

'The people administering the scheme should be disciplined for allowing this project to get public funding - and the money should be recouped.'

Taxpayers' Alliance campaign director Mark Wallace said: 'People work hard to afford to pay taxes and the last thing our money should be spent on is this kind of hocus pocus.

'At a time when people who are alive are losing their jobs it's absurd that money is being spent trying to contact the other side.'

The £21m scheme aimed at getting 200,000 people back into work is paid for by Welsh Assembly and European Social Fun cash - but the DWP decide on which applicants get the cash.

A DWP spokesman said: 'We give real help to anyone who loses their job to get back into work as quickly as possible.'

But officials at the Welsh Assembly chiefs have now launched an internal investigation into the funding of the psychic school.

A Welsh Assembly spokesman said: 'We support the overall Want2Work scheme in its efforts to get people back into gainful employment - but we don't administer it.

'We are in the process of checking to determine how this unique venture fits in with the aims of the project.'
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