Darling urged to confirm support for Iceland charities

Shadow children, schools and families minister Maria Miller has called on the Chancellor to announce measures in his pre-Budget report on Monday to help charities affected by the collapse of Icelandic banks.

Miller said it was the Government's responsibility to "make good those assertions that were made early on" that charities would not be left to fend for themselves.

Miller, whose Basingstoke constituency benefits from the work of Naomi House, the children's hospice that had £5.7m invested in Icelandic bank Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander, spoke to Third Sector yesterday after failing to secure an emergency debate on charity funding and Icelandic bank deposits in the House of Commons.

She told MPs that Naomi House "faces the prospect of a protracted fight to recover any of its money at all" even though Harriet Harman, the leader of the house, had twice said charities "would receive particular support".

She also told the Commons: "Naomi House was using a bank that was regulated by the British Financial Services Authority and, indeed, that was on a list specifically approved by the Charity Commission. There are very serious questions to be answered."

Afterwards she told Third Sector that FSA rules needed to be amended because they offered protection only to small charities that had suffered losses and failed to differentiate between larger charities, such as Naomi House, and private companies.

"I don't think the Government ever intended to penalise organisations such as Naomi House," she said. "I want Alistair Darling to clarify what the situation is and to make good those assertions that were made early on.

"He can't brush something like this under the carpet. He has to address it, and there is no better opportunity to do so than on Monday when he makes his pre-Budget statement."

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