Brown threatens Eden Project growth

Link: Charity battles Customs over lost VAT

The project, which has a turnover of £20m, would lose £1m under plans by Gordon Brown to stop charities replacing taxable admissions with gift aided ‘day memberships’.

Dave Meneer, the charity’s marketing director, said: ‘It’s a real body blow because we have built that money into our five-year plan. We are working on a new education block and now we are thinking: ‘Shit! We aren’t going to be able to run that like we thought”.’

An early day motion opposing the change has attracted the support of almost 60 MPs. London Zoo and the National Trust are among many charities that could also lose out.

An Inland Revenue spokesman said: ‘This is an unintended side effect of the gift aid legislation, which is intended to encourage donations. Day admissions do not result in increased donations.’

But the Eden project vehemently rejected this, pointing out that it took guidance from the taxman before implementing the scheme. MD Gaynor Coley said: ‘To describe the proposed amendment as closing a loophole is a nonsense. The changes will have a significant affect.’

The charity has written to MPs warning the changes could be ‘financially crippling’.

A final decision is expected after consultation ends in June.

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