Posted 19 September 2016
Strip ‘quacks’ of tax breaks, say scientists: Health charities that promote ‘dangerous’ homeopathic treatments could lose bank perks
By Richard Marsden and Justin Stoneman
Daily Mail. Published 15 September 2016
- The Good Thinking Society campaigns against ‘pseudoscience’
- It plans to mount High Court battle to force Charity Commission to take ‘dozens’ of alternative health organisations off register
- In their sights: Vaccination Awareness Network, Maun Homeopathy Project, Gentle Touch Healing and Keys College of Radionics
Health charities that promote ‘dangerous’ homeopathic treatments should be stripped of their tax breaks, a group of scientists has urged.
The Good Thinking Society, which campaigns against ‘irrationality and pseudoscience’, plans to mount a High Court battle to force the Charity Commission to take ‘dozens’ of homeopathic and alternative health organisations off its register.
As registered charities, these groups – which enjoy the support of a raft of celebrities, including Prince Charles – do not have to pay tax on income and can reclaim deductions on bank interest and donations.
This is despite a report last year by the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia, which found the remedies were ‘not effective for treating any health condition’.
UK-based homeopathy and alternative health charities include Keys College of Radionics – which claims the body can heal itself by using its energy fields, directed by a pendulum – and Vaccination Awareness Network, which organises protests against mandatory vaccination.
The Good Thinking Society believes homeopathy to be ‘dangerous’ because it deters ‘vulnerable’ followers from using regular treatments, potentially risking their health.
It has given the Charity Commission until the end of today to remove such organisations from its register – or it will launch High Court proceedings to force the commission to act.
As registered charities, these groups – which enjoy the support of a raft of celebrities, including Prince Charles – do not have to pay tax on income and can reclaim deductions on bank interest and donations
As registered charities, these groups – which enjoy the support of a raft of celebrities, including Prince Charles – do not have to pay tax on income and can reclaim deductions on bank interest and donations Society chairman Simon Singh said: ‘The public expects charities to offer some public benefit, and indeed this is enshrined in the Charities Act.
‘If the … Commission tolerates charities that promote pseudoscience and ineffective treatments then it is undermining its own reputation and the trust in charities.’
The society is backed by Professor Edzard Ernst, of Exeter University, who specialises in the study of complementary and alternative medicine.
He said: ‘Homeopathic remedies are no different from placebos – they have no plausible mechanisms of action. Clinical evidence fails to show they are effective.’
In August the society sent the commission a letter signed by 11 academics from major universities, in which it named four charities.
It said it is in breach of laws requiring registered charities to be of ‘public benefit’ because homeopathy is a ‘disproven theory’.
The Charity Commission said it was ‘considering the issues raised’ and will respond shortly.
It added: ‘Organisations that apply to register as a charity are considered on an individual basis … Charitable purposes for advancing health include conventional methods as well as complementary, alternative or holistic methods. To be charitable there needs to be sufficient evidence of the efficacy of the method to be used.’