Harriet Harman writes to Jeremy Hunt about capping tax relief for arts donors

Natalie Woolman

Shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman has written to her government counterpart Jeremy Hunt asking him to “stand up for the arts” and to reconsider the cap on tax relief for charitable donations announced in the Budget.

Chancellor George Osborne announced in the Budget that tax reliefs will be capped at £50,000 or 25% of a person’s income, whichever is higher, from 2013. However, philanthropists and charities have hit out at the move.

In her letter to Hunt, Harman lists a number of direct questions. These include whether he was consulted before the budget about the cap, if he has made any assessment of impact of such a cap on cultural philanthropy and if he supports the move.

She adds: “I share the concerns of arts organisations across the country about the impact of this tax relief cap, on top of the public funding cuts which have already started to bite. The changes proposed in the Budget go against everything you have previously argued for, and further threaten the future of the arts in this country, arts which are a key part of British identity.

“With the changes not due to come in until next year, there is still time for the government to listen, think again and support important charitable giving to the arts. I urge you to reconsider the tax relief cap and stand up for the arts and culture.”

Meanwhile, Arts Council England chair Liz Forgan told the BBC’s World at One that news of the cap came “out of the blue” and that she thought the cap would cost cultural organisations £80 million “at least” in donations.

When approached about the issue by The Stage this week, a spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said that it did not comment on internal government discussions.

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