Should businesses, utilities, local authorities and other organisations offer reduced-cost services to registered charities and CIOs?

The public at large not only support charities and their work but also support the concept that charitable organisations, many of which are run entirely by volunteers, should benefit from services provided at below the commercial rate.

Of course, many organisations do this. Charities do not have to pay VAT on some goods and services and charity shops in most local government areas benefit from lower rates than other commercial premises. Some of Minerva’s present and past clients have had their accounts audited at very competitive rates or indeed on a pro bono basis.

But this is not universal. A short while ago, we investigated the purchase of a new computer suite for a small charity and discovered that the manufacturer’s “charity cost” was actually more expensive than some of the offers provided by high street retailers.

Many small charities are reeling from electricity and gas costs, with requests for reduced rates or a moratorium on rate increases denied. Banks too do not always offer reduced-price facilities for charities, especially small ones.

As we approach a General Election this year, it would be an appropriate time to lobby political parties to consider legislation that will provide reduced-cost services to small charities, not simply to cut their costs but to enable them to service in this harsh economic climate.

Such legislation would not just benefit the charities themselves, but also their beneficiaries and the wider public.