Charities should lose their tax reliefs and receive government grants instead, a member of a Parliamentary committee suggested yesterday.
Kelvin Hopkins, Labour MP for Luton North, told a Public Administration Select Committee hearing into the implementation of the Charities Act 2006 that he felt that existing charity tax reliefs were not working.
"I don’t like tax reliefs in general," he said. "If government or elected bodies such as local authorities think that a local body or a national body is worth supporting, it should get a grant."
He said that publicly accountable bodies such as the government were best placed to make a choice about which causes were worth supporting.
But Francesca Quint, a barrister specialising in charity law at Radcliffe Chambers, told the committee that it would be "very dangerous" to separate charitable status and tax relief.
She said there would be "enormous scope for unwanted political interference" in charities and that not all charities were doing something that government wanted to see done.
Quint added that charities were also publicly accountable organisations.
Philip Kirkpatrick, a partner at specialist charity law firm Bates Wells & Braithwaite, said that charities were funded by individual donations and that tax reliefs generated "vast amounts of personal giving".