Tower poppy charities get VAT boost
Charities benefiting from the Tower of London poppies are set for a £1 million boost after George Osborne announced he will waive the VAT from the sale of the ceramic flowers.
Up to four million people are expected to have visited the installation, Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, before it is dismantled on November 12.
By the time it is completed 888,246 ceramic poppies will fill the moat surrounding the Tower, one for each British and colonial death during the First World War.
A team of 11,000 volunteers will begin removing the display on November 12, with the proceeds from the sale of the poppies being split between six charities providing support to service personnel, veterans and their families.
The expected VAT bill of £1.1 million from the sale of the display will be covered using some of the Libor fines collected from the banks.
The Chancellor said: "Each one of these poppies brought from their Derby factory to the Tower of London represents a British soldier who answered the call from their country a century ago and made the ultimate sacrifice.
"Their sacrifice reminds us of the part played throughout recent times by our Armed Forces to preserve our security and freedom, and of the debt we owe them.
"It is therefore right that we use the fines from those who've demonstrated the worst of values to support those who demonstrate the best of values everyday."
All net proceeds plus a guaranteed 10% from every £25 poppy sold will be shared equally amongst six service charities: Cobseco, Combat Stress, Coming Home, Help for Heroes, the Royal British Legion and the Soldiers, Sailors, Airman and Families Association (SSAFA).
The Government's donation will be up to £1.1 million, equivalent of the expected net sum of the VAT receipts collected on sales.
At Prime Minsiter's Questions yesterday, David Cameron said the project had " brought forward from the British public a huge amount of reverence for those who have given their lives and served our country" and added: "It is an extraordinary display and one that the country can be very proud of."
London Mayor Boris Johnson has called for the field of ceramic poppies to remain at the Tower of London beyond Armistice Day.
The London mayor said the huge popularity of the exhibition meant he wanted to explore whether it could be kept at the site for longer than originally planned.
A spokeswoman for the mayor said he was in discussion with Historic Royal Palaces, the agency which runs the Tower of London, about extending the exhibition for a further week.
But Historic Royal Palaces said that it was always the intention to begin sending the poppies - which have been sold to raise cash for charity - to their new owners after Armistice Day on November 11.
General Lord Dannatt, Constable of the Tower of London and former head of the Army, said: "We are delighted with the Chancellor's decision to donate the equivalent net VAT made on the sale of the ceramic poppies that have formed the art installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London.
"With this generous contribution the project will have raised even more money for our charity partners enabling them to carry out their vital work. We are extremely grateful."