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SAVE OUR CHARITIES; You've eaten humble pie over pasty tax, Mr Osborne... now it's time to show bit of compassion Many face closure as funds are drained Demand for rethink on donations tax plan.

Byline: Torcuil Crichton

GEORGE Osborne was last night under pressure for a U-turn on charities' tax relief - after it was revealed that many in Scotland face closure.

Campaigners are demanding the Tory Chancellor performs another massive Budget climbdown after he caved in over the pie tax and VAT on caravans.

As we reported yesterday, he axed the controversial measures during the parliamentary closed season.

But Westminster being on holiday didn't save the Chancellor from being humiliated or from demands for other parts of his "omnishambles" Budget to be dismantled.

Charities want the cap on donations to be repealed as one in 10 in Scotland face the axe amid cuts in public funding, a decline in donations and the soaring levels of need draining their resources.

John Low, chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, said: "The Government have shown they are prepared to listen.

"Now is the time for them to listen to charities, donors and their own supporters to do the right thing and exempt charitable donations from the damaging tax cap."

It comes after Osborne decided to reverse plans to charge 20 per cent VAT on food such as sausage rolls and pies after weeks of protest.

He will also reduce the new VAT charge on static caravans.

But the big target now must be the planned cap on tax relief on charitable donations - of pounds 50,000 or 25 per cent of income a year.

Scots groups have already warned they could lose up to pounds 200million in public funding from Holyrood over the next four years as a result.

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations revealed income for charities fell by pounds 96million in 2010. Other charities are being hit by the tax on philanthropy.

Alex Cole-Hamilton - of Aberlour, the largest children's charity - said: "We are seeing donations from wealthy individuals dry up while local authority funding is getting tighter as they increasingly put services out to tender in a bid to reduce their costs."

Tory MPs are predicting a U-turn on the charity tax in the autumn statement but that may be too late for some.

MP David Ruffley claimed yesterday ministers are now preparing the ground for a rethink to avoid hurting the voluntary sector. He said budget plans to cap tax relief for charitable donations had been planned "on the back of an envelope".

A full U-turn may not be possible as it would cost pounds 400million - compared to the pounds 40million for dropping the pie tax.

But Ruffley said: "The Treasury has already signalled it is consulting on ways to lessen its impact."

And the price Osborne has paid in credibility is far higher than the Treasury's hit.

Labour said the Con-Dems were suffering "U-turn-itis", with a handbrake policy spin coming on average every six weeks.

They said there have been 32 Government U-turns since the Coalition came into power.

And since January, there have been changes of heart on VAT on church repairs, on which kind of fighter aircraft to have on the new carriers, on the coastguard cuts and yesterday, on plans for secret inquests in some court cases.

Rachel Reeves, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, accused the Government of "policymaking on the hoof".

She added: "They should never have put this in the Budget without consultation. All these things show a Government in a total mess."

However, there are still no signs of the Chancellor finding a reverse gear over the economy and cuts in public services. That is despite seven out of 10 people demanding Osborne adopt a "Plan B" to give priority to growth rather than spending cuts.

A ComRes poll found that 72 per cent of the public believe it is time for the Coalition to perform a U-turn.

Sixty-four per cent who voted Tory in the General Election and 68 per cent of those who backed the Lib Dems want a change of course.

STEPHEN DALY ANTONINE COURT A DAY care centre for scores of disabled people in one of Scotland's poorest communities is facing a funding crisis.

Earlier this year, Antonine Court in Drumchapel, Glasgow, lost a pounds 180,000 grant.

Chairman Stephen Daly is finding the battle to balance the books a never ending challenge. He said: "Over the past few years, there is just less and less money around because the reality is that the country is in a deep recession.

"I think that the future for organisations like ours, who provide services that people rely desperately on, is going to be more and more challenging."

MARY BROWN NORDOFF-ROBINS THOUSANDS of lives have been changed by the work of Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy.

The charity work with people with a range of physical and mental conditions with the aim of enriching their life through music.

But keeping clinics in West Lothian, Glasgow, Fife and Dundee running is proving difficult as funds dry up.

Executive director Mary Brown said: "We are having to watch every penny.

"If the wider economic picture doesn't improve, many charities will have to close their doors."


BATTLE Stephen FEARS Mary PRESSURE Z Osborne is feeling the heat
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Title Annotation:Editorial
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 30, 2012
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