Finance news: Group seeks meeting with new minister for charity taxation

Mathew Little

Dawn Primarolo, the paymaster general, has been given responsibility for charity taxation issues.

She succeeds Ivan Lewis, economic secretary to the Treasury, who previously held the charities brief at the Treasury.

The Charities' Tax Reform Group has requested a meeting with Primarolo, MP for Bristol South and a patron of the Terrence Higgins Trust. A former left-winger, dubbed 'Red Dawn' by the media, Primarolo joined the Treasury team after Labour's 1997 election victory and has been a New Labour loyalist ever since.

The group's scheduled meeting with Lewis had been cancelled because of last month's ministerial reshuffle. The CTRG will be hoping for a more flexible approach on VAT reform from Primarolo than it received from Lewis, who said that to keep suggesting there could be progress on VAT was "unhelpful".

Helen Donoghue, director of the CTRG, welcomed her appointment. "Her longstanding responsibility for the VAT system and her involvement with the development of EU VAT policy will enable us to engage with a minister who understands the complexity of the issues we are facing," she said.

"This is important as we move towards the launch of the European Commission's consultation on the taxation of public bodies. We hope to develop a positive dialogue with the new minister as soon as possible."

Ed Miliband, who heads the Office of the Third Sector in the Cabinet Office, has damped down hopes that the reshuffle could lead to a rethink of VAT policy. "Two reviews have looked at this issue and neither found an equitable way of separating some organisations from others," he said.

"That is not to say I don't understand people's concerns about it, but tax itself remains a matter for the Treasury."

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