According to a Times exclusive, the government will force charity donations to hospitals to be placed formally on the hospitals’ balance sheets after April 2010. This will include money (and assets one supposes) that is given to specialist cancer and children’s units. According to a Department of Health letter it is so as to fall in line with its interpretation of the accounting rules, something the Charity Commission totally disagrees with.This will mean that all donations will appear on the hospitals books and then be taken onto account when central government hands out the health budget. Those hospitals that attract a lot of charitable donations could potentially find themselves out of pocket where central government funds are concerned.
As the Times points out, Labour set up the NHS in 1948 and under the rules that founded it Ministers are banned from taking those donations into account.
With severe cuts in public spending to come this could be the first move in a wave of similar actions taken to try and relieve the pressure on the Chancellor’s now rather thin purse.
This could be extended to cover just about every organisation that receives public money. What the government has done here is to start the process of turning charity money into tax money. Who will now leave money to a charity in the knowledge that by so doing that charity will get less money from other sources? Also, what about those tax breaks the governemnt gives out, where they refund the tax paid by the donor to the donee on charitable donations? This new move makes a mockery of that.
The government it must be remembered though has a huge stake in the whole of the country’s charity system. It hands out vast sums of taxpayers’ money to selected charities every year. These have become known in certain circles as ‘fake charities’. Because they are set up and benefit like ordinary charities but rely almost exclusively on government (our) our EU funds to exist. They then, through the media, support the position of the government that feeds them. These include anti-alcohol, environmental and anti-salt pressure groups. This gives the government media power with no checks and balances.
The downturn has had an adverse effect on donations anyway, as people have less to give. This new government move may accelerate that reduction. This shows just how desperate the UK’s position has become. Haw long before the National Lottery becomes totally governemnt controlled?