The challenges faced by the Royal Theatrical Fund, and indeed many charities, may well become more onerous over the next few years. My fears for the immediate future relate much to the preparations for the London Olympics which will undoubtedly swallow up vast sums from the National Lottery and elsewhere.
Stealth taxation and other fiscal policies of this Government, whilst purporting to make charitable giving easier, have already weakened the ability of many to make donations. The exception is with regard to legacies made to charity by the wealthy which continue to be tax-free. Unfortunately, this method of giving is often overlooked. Other economies relating to the elderly have substantially increased the financial shortfall for home care and the Government appears to overlook the fact (or perhaps it hasn’t) that the extra burden will fall on charities like our own to make up that shortfall. Another major factor is the marked increased cost of heating and domestic bills which most of our beneficiaries are unable to meet without our help.
For all these reasons we need to double our efforts to sustain and increase the RTF income to meet the larger number of appeals for help and the higher costs of individual cases. Only by doing so will we be able to maintain the long tradition of the RTF in relieving distress whenever it is brought to our attention. Please remember, that with the huge increase in property values, thousands of legacies are now exceeding the limit above which they are subject to 40% inheritance tax. If you include a bequest to the RTF in your Will, it is tax-free and is not included in your tax allowance. In other words, it comes to the RTF and not to the taxman.
It is not always appreciated that the RTF answers a greater number of appeals for help than any of the other theatrical charities. Because of our wide remit, some sister charities, which are restricted by their covenants from helping all sections of the acting profession, pass over often very deserving cases to the RTF. We in turn endeavour to find compatible sources of support for those more costly cases we cannot sustain entirely on our own. In this context, I would like especially to thank The Musicians Benevolent Fund, The Grand Order of Water Rats, Denville Hall and the Elizabeth Finn Trust.
My thanks extends to all of you who have supported the RTF and its work over the last twelve months, to all members of the Board who give of their time and skills entirely on a voluntary basis and to our remarkable staff whose wide experience of the often complex support available makes such a difference to the welfare of our beneficiaries.
The Chairman, The Royal Theatrical Fund