Celebrity support for VAT campaign

The Charity Finance Directors' Group's dogged campaign for a reform of the VAT system was given a boost last week when two famous actors signed up.

Dame Judi Dench and Maureen Lipman became the first celebrities to speak out on the issue of the sector's £500m VAT bill.

"I don't think the Government should charge charities VAT," said Lipman.

"It was originally intended to be a tax on luxuries, and charitable work isn't a luxury."

Dench, a patron of learning disability charity the Home Farm Trust and council member of VSO, said: "I was horrified to learn that £700,000 of the money raised by the Home Farm Trust is lost to the taxman as a result of VAT. Government shouldn't seek to profit from the fundraising activities of charities, particularly where they are helping to provide vital public services."

She called for a compensation scheme for charities that cannot recover their VAT.

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