Major dismisses threat to charities' tax relief

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Indy Politics
JOHN MAJOR has stamped on proposals to abolish tax relief for campaigning charities contained in a report sponsored by the Home Office.

'I stand four-square behind the tax concessions we have made to the voluntary sector,' the Prime Minister said.

Peter Lloyd, a Home Office minister, likewise disowned the report, and revealed that ministers were to discuss the rules preventing invalidity benefit claimants from doing voluntary work.

In a speech in London to the Per Cent Club, a group of companies committed to community work, Mr Major pledged to work towards the creation of a national network for volunteers. It would begin with grants for projects that encouraged more people to put themselves forward for voluntary work, he said.

Of last week's report, partly funded by the Home Office, Mr Major said: 'I want to make it clear that tax relief for charitable giving is here to stay.' He promised to remove unnecessary bureaucratic burdens on the voluntary sector.

On the prospect of changes in benefit rules, Mr Lloyd said disabled people should be encouraged to do voluntary work. Although rules were needed to ensure that only those entitled to benefit received it, this was causing problems in the voluntary sector.

Speaking at a conference in London, Mr Lloyd referred to reports that people on invalidity benefit were being deterred from doing voluntary work because they feared losing benefit. The Department of Social Security was reported to be clamping down on 'shirkers', with staff taking the view that people fit enough to volunteer were not disabled enough to receive benefit.

Mr Major praised the Home Office drive to recruit 10,000 more special constables, a move that has angered some regular officers. 'We are asking public services to take a far more positive attitude to involving volunteers,' he said.

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