A Kenton hospice says terminally ill people will suffer because a change in council policy means it has to pay an extra £15,000 in tax.

St Luke’s Hospice in Kenton will now have to pay full business rates on its 13 charity shops across the borough after Harrow Borough Council abolished the rebate it receives.

The charity says the money it has lost could have paid for 250 home visits.

Pam Russell, the charity’s director of fundraising and community relations, said: “It’s not very much money for the council but it makes a big difference to what we do.

“Obviously the funding situation is quite uncertain and everybody is having a hard time in the economic situation but the money goes a long way.

“Charity shops are good for everybody because it means no empty shops in the high street, they raise money for good causes and the give work experience to members of the community.”

Harrow East MP Bob Blackman said the decision by the authority showed it had failed to get a grip of its finances.

He said: “This change will have a negligible effect on the finances of Harrow Council but will come as a big blow to charities across the borough.

“Once again Harrow Council has highlighted its failure to get a grip on the budget in a way that doesn’t see a reduction in frontline services or a cut in support to external organisations.”

 Councillor Sachin Shah, the portfolio holder for finance, said: “Harrow council has a strong partnership with charities in the borough and hugely values the worthwhile work they carry out. 

"This change only stops charities from being awarded the 20 per cent top up discretionary rate relief - they will continue to receive relief on 80 per cent of their rates.

"The council has had to meet a £24m funding gap over the next two years and a result of this has to make some tough decisions. 

"Removing this relief will allow us to spend money on other vital services that otherwise we may have difficulty funding.

"As a council, we will continue to fight for more money for our residents, and are currently lobbying the Government for a fairer share of the money they give out to local authorities, through our Campaign for a Fair Grant.”