George Osborne’s latest Budget – his eighth – included a number of policy changes that will impact on the charity sector.
Tampon tax redistribution
The £12m raised from the controversial ‘Tampon Tax’ will be allocated to charities across the UK from “Breast Cancer Care to the White Ribbon Campaign”, the Chancellor outlined.
The Government has been under pressure to axe the five per cent VAT on women’s sanitary products tax, which its detractors say represents a tax on women. However, under EU rules, the UK does not have the power to cut the VAT on sanitary products and five per cent is the lowest rate permitted.
Big business first
Following the Budget, charities have accused the Chancellor of ignoring poor children, domestic violence victims, and disabled people while lavishing money on big business. Wednesday’s spending statement saw the Chancellor unveil further cuts to corporation tax, business rates, and a tax cut for higher earners – but provide little in the way of relief for the most vulnerable.
Alison Garnham, chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group, said children had lost out at the expense of business groups. “This Budget puts the next generation last and set to be the poorest generation for decades,” she said.
“The Chancellor ignored both the 3.7m children in poverty now and the fact that according to IFS projections we face the biggest increase in child poverty in a generation.
“The Chancellor delivered some big investments for the better off but there was little here for hard-up parents trying to get better off by earning more. Children were prioritised behind business groups who got costly tax cuts.”
National deaf-blind charity Sense said the Budget was a “bleak day for disabled people” and accused the Chancellor or ignoring them, while United Response, which provides disability support services, argued the Budget “does nothing but compound the uncertainty already facing people with disabilities”.
Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of the MS Society, said the confirmation of a further benefit cut to Personal Independence Payment disability benefit would cause sufferers of multiple sclerosis “anxiety and fears”.
In the Budget, the Chancellor announced £115m to help homeless people escape the streets and move on from hostels.
Responding, Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “We welcome today’s commitment to help more people off the streets and out of hostels. Rough sleeping has more than doubled since 2010 and these vital funds are needed now more than ever:
“The announcement of funding for Housing First is particularly welcome. This is something that Crisis has been calling for and offers a real opportunity to end homelessness for some of the most vulnerable people.
“Nevertheless, if the Government is serious about tackling homelessness, it needs to go much further than this. Without stronger action, including a change in the law and the funding to make it work, these measures do little to tackle the underlying problems, both in the law and with conditions in the housing market.
“The law as it stands means that single homeless people who go to their councils for help are often turned away to sleep on the streets – cold, desperate and forgotten. It’s a scandal that someone in this situation can be told they’re not vulnerable enough for help.
“The scale of the task is enormous: all forms of homelessness continue to rise and many of the underlying causes remain. We strongly urge the government to follow through on its commitment to consider options – including legislation – to prevent more people from becoming homeless. It is essential that all homeless people can get the help they need and that councils get the necessary funding to deliver on this.”
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