VAT on Royal Marsden Hospital revamp donation 'criminal'

A businessman who donated £2.3m to refurbish a ward in a west London cancer hospital has said it is "criminal" to charge VAT on the work.

Jimmy Thomas, who owns bingo halls, said the Royal Marsden cancer centre was taxed £460,000 for the revamp.

Mr Thomas, whose wife Alma was treated at the hospital before her death in 2008, called for the law to be changed.

HM Revenue and Customs said hospitals have to pay VAT for rebuild but there are tax reliefs for charitable giving.

The refurbished ward was opened to patients on Friday.

'Law change'

Mr Thomas, 78, who owns a string of bingo halls in the East Midlands and is the co-founder of the Hippodrome Casino in Leicester Square, funded the revamp of the Ellis Ward in the hospital in Chelsea where his 74-year-old wife received treatment for ovarian cancer.

The businessman said though the treatment his wife received had been superb, the facilities had been "far from what was required".

He added: "The fact that a world-leading hospital, at the very pinnacle of treatment excellence, should be slammed with a VAT bill just to improve facilities for essential NHS care is criminal. The law must be changed."

The Tory donor said he had also raised his concerns with Prime Minister David Cameron.

A spokesman for Revenue and Customs said: "Both building and refurbishment works are subject to VAT. This is the case for hospitals as with other types of building.

"VAT will be payable on such works, whether they are funded by government or through donation.

"The tax system provides a range of very generous tax reliefs to support charitable giving."

Medical director of the hospital Professor Martin Gore said the hospital was grateful for Mr Thomas's generosity.

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