VAT on London Marathon charity runners “could reach £5m”

first_img Accountancy firm Chantrey Vellacott DFK says that the VAT bill for charities with Golden Bonds in this Sunday’s London Marathon could be as high as £5 million.HM Customs & Excise will be levying 17.5% VAT on charities which have paid to guarantee a place in the London Marathon with a Golden Bond on the grounds that this is an entrance fee and therefore liable for VAT. Other sponsored runners will not be affected.The power to levy VAT on charities for this reason is not new. The Treasury emphasised this in a statement: “There has been no change in the VAT rules, there is no question of a clampdown.” Advertisement  24 total views,  1 views today AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to EmailEmailShare to WhatsAppWhatsAppShare to MessengerMessengerShare to MoreAddThis The issue was highlighted in a Commons written answer to Simon Hughes MP, the Liberal Democrat candidate for London Mayor, who described the crackdown as outrageous.Some charities affected are already aware of the VAT issue but it is likely that many sponsored runners with a Golden Bond are not. As such, according to Chantrey Vellacott DFK on BBC Radio 4 this morning, they will be running four of the miles of the marathon just to meet the charity’s VAT bill.Gemma Peters, Mencap’s Head of Events and Fundraising and Chair of the Event Managers Forum representing 300 managers from different charities, said: “Levying VAT on sponsorship will mean that £50,000 of the money our London Marathon team have worked so hard to raise will now go straightto the government rather than to improve the lives of people with a learning disability. People running the marathon for charities like Mencap will doubtless be disappointed to discover that nearly a fifth of the money they raised will now go to the tax man and not to the individuals who need it most.” AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to EmailEmailShare to WhatsAppWhatsAppShare to MessengerMessengerShare to MoreAddThis Howard Lake | 14 April 2004 | Newscenter_img Tagged with: Events Finance VAT on London Marathon charity runners “could reach £5m” About Howard Lake Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world’s first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp and co-founder of GoodJobs.org.uk. Researching massive growth in giving.last_img read more

Giving hybrids some respect

first_imgHarvard researchers are bringing new respectability to hybrids, showing that not all are evolutionary dead ends or short-lived mistakes and that some not only encompass the best traits of both parents, but create a unique mix that can endure as a separate species.Researchers at Harvard’s FAS Center for Systems Biology used genetic analysis to examine the evolutionary history of a recently recognized species of butterfly, the Appalachian tiger swallowtail, discovered in 2002. The Harvard analysis confirmed what other researchers had suspected, that the butterfly was a hybrid of the Canadian tiger swallowtail and the more southern eastern tiger swallowtail. Further, the researchers showed that the hybrid species originated when males from the Canadian species mated with females from the south.“Our work provides perhaps the first animal example that illustrates how hybrid species may be selectively favored when they inherit from their parent species-specific combinations of genes that underlie important ecological traits,” said Krushnamegh Kunte, a postdoctoral fellow at the center and lead author of the study, which was published online Sept. 8 in PLoS Genetics.The research shows that the species formed in a burst of hybridization that likely occurred during the last interglacial period. As the range of the cold-adapted Canadian tiger swallowtail retreated north with the glaciers, the range of the warm climate-adapted eastern tiger swallowtail advanced northward and up into the Appalachian Mountains. The two species subsequently intermingled in the mountains during a changing climate.The result is the Appalachian tiger swallowtail, which shares key traits of both parental species. Like the Canadian tiger swallowtail, it is tolerant of colder temperatures. And like the eastern tiger swallowtail, females have two forms, one that resembles the yellow, tiger-striped male, and a second dark-winged form that mimics the distantly related, poisonous pipevine swallowtail, a strategy that provides protection from predators.That combination of traits allowed the hybrids to populate the Appalachian Mountains, south of the range of the Canadian tiger swallowtail, overlapping with the pipevine swallowtail, and in territory cool enough to keep the eastern tiger swallowtail out.“This trait combination helped the new hybrids to occupy a novel niche that the parent species was unable to occupy. The hybrids eventually evolved into a new species,” said Kunte. “This is a nice example of natural selection driving the origin of species. In this case, the North American thermal landscape, historical climate change, and mimicry provided the ecological stage for the evolution of a new hybrid species.”The work was conducted by Kunte and Bauer Fellow Marcus Kronforst, the paper’s senior author, and a team of colleagues from the University of Texas, Austin, Princeton University, and Michigan State University.Creating species through hybridization is common in plants, but is rare in animals, Kronforst said. Though attitudes are changing, until recently, hybrids outside the plant kingdom were thought of as evolutionary mistakes. While their parents are adapted over millions of years to fit certain environmental niches, hybrids sharing traits from two species tend to be poorly adapted to survive in either parent’s niche. In addition, hybrids can have physical problems. Mules, for example, which are crosses between horses and donkeys, are sterile.The research, Kronforst said, enriches the picture of hybridization, illustrating that it is not merely a series of isolated accidents with little larger meaning, but rather an ongoing evolutionary process. Hybrids, Kronforst said, are a vehicle for the genetic mixing of parent populations. Sometimes the result is a less fit individual, and the impact on the larger population is negligible. Sometimes fertile hybrids result, and mate back with the parent species, providing an avenue for genetic exchange between parent species. In still other cases, Kronforst said, the hybridization can result in new species, mixing parental traits in a way that allows the offspring to inhabit their own environmental niche.“Hybridization has huge creative potential even in animals, where it is often disregarded,” Kronforst said. “Hybridization can drive the creation of new species.”last_img read more

A common weed could feed the world

first_imgToday, three plants—corn, soybeans, and rice—feed most of the people on the planet. But for most of human history, people ate the seeds and fruit of hundreds of native plants. Our food system today is more productive—but also more vulnerable. It’s a concern that has haunted Stephen Carmody, an archaeologist at The University of the South. He has spent decades exploring ancient caves in the Southeast searching for plants that people had forgotten. To his surprise, most of the ancient seeds and plants he has uncovered are still around today, growing wild in nearly every habitat—along railroad tracks, in abandoned fields, and even in many backyards and gardens.“Indigenous people ate dozens of plants that today we call weeds,” says Carmody. Last year, Carmody uncovered seeds in a Tennessee cave that were at least 8,000 years old. He experimentally planted a few of the seeds, including seeds for the common weed often called lambsquarters or Chenopodium. Because lambsquarters are native to the Southeast, they are equipped with everything they need to grow. While it takes roughly 3,000 gallons of water to produce a bushel of corn, growing lambsquarters requires next to nothing. Lambsquarters utilize long tap roots that stretch deep into the soil, sucking up all the water and minerals they need to thrive.  Lambsquarters’ leaves contain more nutrients than spinach and produce a seed similar to quinoa—a superfood so popular that Whole Foods can barely keep it in stock.Currently, the vast majority of the foods grown on both organic and conventional farms is not native to the region in which they are grown. These crops are less hardy and poorly adapted to regional climate and conditions. Nonnative plants and food crops also tend to require a lot of fertilizers, pesticides, water, and money. Yet growing lambsquarters is as simple as scattering seed, walking away, and returning a few months later to harvest. Growing lambsquarters and other ancient foods could be part of a new agricultural revolution as climate change threatens conventional crops and farming methods.“As a soil scientist, I think the most important thing that we can do is understand the limits of what the land can produce and communicate that to people,” says Troy Milosovich, researcher and farm manager with Carmody’s Native Cultigen Experimental Farm.  “Globally, we have lost half of our soil’s organic matter. Look at the amount of land we are no longer able to farm due to erosion. We can’t continue to do what we’ve done in the past and continue to feed a growing population.”Carmody admits that growing out native plants by itself won’t solve the global food crisis, but it can help farmers regionally and globally adapt to climate change. “The crops we grow today are adapted to a climate that won’t exist in one hundred years,” says Carmody. “We need to be integrating more native species of plants that can withstand climate extremes.”Many agricultural innovations require significant capital. In this case, we can address part of a global problem with a simple, ancient seed—and a change in our perspective on what we consider a weed.“My urge is to get rid of weeds,” says Dr. Sarah Sherwood, a soil scientist at the University of the South. “But what is a weed really but a plant whose use we haven’t discovered. Changing the way we view plants like lambsquarters can lead to changes in our diets, our health, and the health of the food system. Sometimes the most elegant and important solutions can be right beneath our feet.”last_img read more