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GORDON HENDERSON MP

FOR SITTINGBOURNE & SHEPPEY

Gordon supporting charities

Gordon Henderson is standing up for charities in Sittingbourne and Sheppey over Government plans for proposed new charges for voluntary organisations. Hundreds of voluntary groups across Sittingbourne and Sheppey, scores of tiny grassroots organisations, will be burdened with the proposed extra fee if they wish to continue playing music and may have to withdraw some services unless a solution is found.

Mr Henderson, who is the local Tory Parliamentary Candidate, is supporting a national campaign called Don’t Stop the Music, run by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.

Mr Henderson said: “I highlighted this proposed new charge earlier in the year, however I am delighted to support NVCO in their own campaign to make the Government change its mind because I am incredibly concerned about the impact this will have on the voluntary and community sector.

“There is a fear that many organisations may simply cancel fundraising events or activities specifically designed to enhance their beneficiaries’ lives. In particular, any solution should ensure that smaller organisations are not discouraged from pursuing activities involving recorded music.”

Stuart Etherington, chief executive of NCVO, said: “There are thousands of voluntary and community groups across Sittingbourne and Sheppey that already run on incredibly tight budgets and will rightly wonder how they will afford to pay this extra fee. These organisations help some of the most disadvantaged people in our society and should be treated differently to commercial organisations.”

While charities and not-for-profit organisations have always had to pay licensing body PRS for Music, which collects royalties on behalf of music writers, composers and publishers, the Government has now proposed they should also pay a fee to PPL, which collects royalties on behalf of performers and record companies.

The charge, which applies to a wide range of events such as fundraising discos, tea dances, community drop-in sessions or where it is used in charity shops create a more cheerful atmosphere for shoppers and volunteers, is due to come into force on 1 April.

NCVO is involved in negotiations with PPL, PRS for Music and the government to ensure small organisations in particularly are not discouraged from carrying out activities with music and that the process is simple and easy to understand for charities.

PPL recently announced it would not make any concessions to the voluntary sector. NCVO is campaigning for an exemption for the smallest, grassroots charities as a minimum. As it stands, organisations may have to pay a minimum fee of £80 per building.

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