Oxbridge joins charity tax furore

 

Oxford and Cambridge universities have joined the increasingly bitter row over Chancellor George Osborne's controversial cap on tax relief for charitable donations.

Andrew Hamilton, vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford, has written to Mr Osborne warning that the plan "risks undermining the culture" of university philanthropy, The Times reported.

A university spokesman told the paper: "The generosity of Oxford's donors provides huge public benefit, contributing to teaching, research and student bursaries.

"We have done our best, along with other universities and charities, to foster a culture of giving in the UK, and this move risks undermining that culture."

Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge has also written a private letter to Mr Osborne expressing his concern, the paper said.

Senior Liberal Democrat Cabinet minister Vince Cable yesterday let it be known that he was "sympathetic" to concerns raised by universities that funding for scholarships and research could be hit by the move.

Meanwhile Arts Council England warned at least £80 million in regular donations to its organisations was at risk, while a new £55 million "matched funding" scheme with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) could also be in jeopardy.

Mr Cable's intervention came after the umbrella body Universities UK wrote to Mr Osborne warning that they were likely to be "particularly hard-hit" by the cap as they relied heavily on big donations.

"Concerns have been raised with ministers including Vince by universities and he's sympathetic to those concerns," a spokeswoman for Mr Cable said.

"We will make sure that what we are hearing from universities is fed back to the Treasury."

Universities UK chief executive Nicola Dandridge said the cap could undo much of the progress universities had made in raising funding from private donors.

"Universities raise considerable sums from philanthropic gifts, £560 million cash in the last year," she said.

"These donations make a major contribution to the support universities can offer students through bursaries, scholarships and improved facilities such as libraries. It also contributes to advancing research.

"Because universities are the preferred cause of major donors - gifts over £1 million - we anticipate that they would be particularly hard-hit by the change in the Budget.

"After a period in which universities have stepped up their game in fundraising, this could undo some of the excellent progress they have made."

David Davis, a former chairman of the public accounts committee, told the Guardian ministers should reconsider their plans.

"If the Government's aim is to prevent tax avoidance, it would be better to ensure donations are approved by the Charity Commission," he said.

"Or if the charity is based abroad, it should be subject to review by [Revenues & Customs]. If the government's aim is simply to raise money from philanthropists, the government should say so."

Arts Council England chairwoman Dame Liz Forgan said donations to arts organisations were also likely to suffer as wealthy backers looked again at the amounts they were prepared to give.

"We think that at least £80 million worth of regular donations to several of our largest organisations would be at risk and there could well be a wider impact than that," she told BBC Radio 4's The World at One.

"It is actually very difficult for arts organisations to raise private money, it's hard work and seeing a concession from the taxman really does help. It is a critical ingredient in the package.

"So I'm afraid that unless something changes this will make a big difference."

In particular she pointed to a new £55 million "matched funding" scheme set up by Arts Council England with the DCMS and the Heritage Lottery Fund designed to encourage wealthy donors to fund endowment to arts organisations.

"I think a lot of organisations who applied for that money did so with an understanding with potential donors as to what they might raise. I think all those plans are probably now up in the air," she said.

Her concerns were echoed by the senior Conservative MP John Whittingdale, who chairs the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

"There is a real danger here that we throw out the baby with the bathwater. The Government has set great store by trying to increase philanthropy in support of the arts and good causes and this clearly won't help," he said.

"To say that we are going to put an arbitrary cap as the Budget has done on the amount of tax relief that can be claimed just seems to me to send a very contrary signal to all the messages that the Government has been putting out up to now."

Treasury Minister David Gauke insisted the Government stood by the "broad principle" of the cap in order to stamp out "abuse" of the system by wealthy individuals who used tax relief to minimise their income tax payments.

But after David Cameron said during his tour of the Far East that he was "very sympathetic" to the concerns raised by charities, Mr Gauke said the Treasury was looking at how it would be implemented.

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Danish director Lars von Trier
tvEnglish-language series with 'huge' international cast set for 2016
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths teachers needed for supply work in Ipswich

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Maths teachers requir...

Executive Assistant/Events Coordinator - Old Street, London

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Executive Assistant/Event...

Female PE Teacher

£23760 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

Secondary supply teachers needed in Peterborough

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: The JobAre you a trai...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering