Letter:Charities are getting poorer

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The Independent Online
From the Rev Paul Nicholson Sir: You report Michael Portillo saying, in Liverpool Cathedral, "higher taxes rob people of the chance to make the moral choice to assist others." The evidence does not support the argument. Charitable donations and private enterprise have done nothing to slow down the increase in poverty over the past 15 years in the UK.

The proportion of gross income spent on charity declined from 0.85 per cent in 1987/88 to 0.6 per cent in 1990-91. State generosity in tax policy to the wealthy, amounting in many cases to over £20,000 a year, has not promoted sufficient corporate or private generosity to the poor and the homeless. On the other hand, the wealthy have set up family trusts for their children or set up accounts in overseas tax havens out of Nigel Lawson's tax decreases, while the government has taken the 16- and 17-year-old children of the poor out of benefit.

The Charities Aid Foundation reported in 1992: Spectacular televised fund-raising events and the new National Lottery mask the need for a massive increase in the Government's aid to the poor in this country and abroad.

There is not a charity big enough to cope. Taxation rather than donations is the only practical means of achieving economic justice in a nation and between nations. That is the moral choice all governments have the chance to make if they are to serve alltheir citizens well and exercise the kind of statesmanship needed in a world whose current inequalities point only to disaster.

Yours faithfully, PAUL NICHOLSON The Vicarage Turville, Buckinghamshire 7 January

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