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LETTER: Why are so many essential services run by donations?

Readers' letters | Published:

A reader questions why so many essential services rely on donations to keep running.

Midlands Air Ambulance

"Something is rotten in the state of England" (to misquote Shakespeare). Why do so many of our essential services rely on charitable giving?

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed our lives in all sorts of ways. One of these is that many charities are having great difficulty raising funds because they can no longer hold fund-raising events and their shops are closed. This really struck me when I read the article in the Shropshire Star (28 April), about the problems faced by the Midlands Air Ambulance service. This is a hugely valuable service, perhaps even an "essential service", but it depends on charitable giving for its survival. The same could be said of Hospices, Cancer Research, Food Banks, and many other parts of the social fabric of this country.

There is nothing wrong with "charity" - indeed it is admirable - and it is amazing how much individuals and organisations can raise for good causes. Just think of Captain (now Colonel) Tom Moore raising £30 million for the NHS! But shouldn't the NHS, the Air Ambulance Service, Hospices etc. be entitled to secure government funding? As a civilised society we want these things to be there, but should they be financially dependent on our individual generosity?

I am not sure if the UK is unusual in having such a large charitable sector, but I think it is time that we, as a wealthy country, reviewed this situation and expected our governments to take more responsibility for the essential services that are currently so dependent on charity. That includes the NHS, which has been chronically underfunded for years. A change of policy would inevitably mean a rise in taxation of various sorts, which politicians are always reluctant to put in their manifestos, but I think we owe it to ourselves and it would make us proud to be part of a country that does enough to support its citizens without relying on "charity".

Robert Monro, Whitchurch

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