Cameron’s attack on philanthropists is the latest nail in the Big Society coffin

David Cameron’s latest attack on philanthropists has put another nail in the coffin of the Big Society, writes shadow Cabinet Office minister Gareth Thomas MP.

Big Society? More like no society

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Gareth Thomas MP (Labour and Co-Operative, Harrow West) is a shadow Cabinet Office minister

David Cameron’s latest attack on philanthropists has put another nail in the coffin of the Big Society. Not content with undermining the voluntary sector, he has now taken to insulting people who give generous donations to charity. It shows staggering arrogance.

David-Cameron-Big-SocietyCameron’s Big Society rhetoric has never matched the reality. His regular relaunches of what he called his mission in politics haven’t fooled those working in charities who have seen funding and support cut from under them.

But Cameron has now delivered another blow to charities and philanthropists. This week Number 10 insulted them, saying philanthropists are donating to charities which “don’t in all cases do a great amount of charitable work” in order to “wipe out” their tax bills.

This is a desperate attempt to justify the changes in this year’s budget which will limit the amount of tax relief which people can claim, including on donations to charity. Those who are abusing reliefs to cut their taxes should be stopped. But Osborne did not announce a cap on reliefs out of principle.

He did so in a last minute panic try and deflect criticism of his decision to cut the 50p tax rate, which will give a tax cut of more than £40,000 each year for 14,000 millionaires.


See also:

It’s the Big Society that’s being hit by the government’s economics 9 Jan 2012

Memo to Cameron: The rich give less to charity 4 Nov 2011

How Cameron’s coalition is choking the Big Society 2 Nov 2011

As Cameron talks up the Big Society, it’s crashing down 6 Jun 2011

Five reasons why you can’t trust Cameron with the Big Society 14 Feb 2011


In their rush the Tories didn’t think through the impact on charities. In seeking to excuse a tax cut for all very high earners, Osborne chose to hit those who give to charity. Charities are already reporting an impact on donations. As Sir Nicholas Hytner, artistic director of the National Theatre, has said, the plans make “no sense”.

And in a clumsy attempt to cover up their mistake, the Tories are now accusing philanthropists and charities of tax avoidance.

David Cameron’s cuts were already squeezing the life out of the Big Society; his insults this week have put another nail in its coffin.


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  • Blarg1987

    I see both sides of this case:

    The trouble is in some cases an individual sets up a charity and pays most of their income into the said charity, they later on, sell up thier buisness or retire. They then become treasurer of said charity in which they pay themselves large sums of money and doing the odd bit of charitable work which equates less to the amount they would have to pay in tax.

    This practice should stop, as charities should be an additional resource to state funding of services etc.

    I believethat any organisation that spends more money on paying individuals ridiculus salaries then spending it on those it is meant to help, should loose its charitiable status as this could be percieved as fraud.

    And I don;t mean this if it is a one of year it would have to be a systematic thing, I do admit their are lots of fantastic charities out there that do good work, shame those that try and provide infastructure in Africa get shafted by the banks after who possess it and charge their users.

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  • Anonymous

    Do you have actual evidence of this going on?

    Because there is a massive amount of ongoing damage being done to major charities over this, and I’ve heard of precisely ONE case of what you’re talking about…which was shut down by the Charities Commissioner!

    (Not to mention the fact that the salary bill for many charities WILL be by far their highest cost)

  • Blarg1987

    There was an article about it about a year ago which said that charities were the next big time bomb for tax avoidance.

    As i have said, there are lots of good charities out there, with regards to salaries, yes I concur they will be the highest cost, however if the books show a charity is paying an individual 1 million pounds per year, yet it is only investing £50,000 in charitable aims, then yes questions should be raised.

  • Anonymous

    Then you raise questions.

    You don’t hammer every charity through the tax system, discouraging giving!

  • Blarg1987

    That I agree with as I said I can see both sides,hence the idea of those ones that are set up as charities but do not do charitable things over a prlonged period should loose their charity status and tax relief and further more if found to be a front pay any and all taxes owed.

  • Anonymous

    Fine, but that’s fundamentally different to what’s happened! This IS hammering perfectly legitimate charities and needs to be reversed!

  • Mr. Sensible

    Chacing headlines…

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