Rivals attack OUP and CUP

<p>Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press have once again come under fire from fellow academic publishers who are angry at the tax benefits afforded the pair through their charitable status. OUP and CUP, the UK&#39;s two largest publishers operating as charities, were singled out for criticism by their competitors in responses submitted to the Charity Commission&#39;s consultation on &quot;public benefit&quot; guidelines. </p><p>The consultation, responses to which have been made public for the first time, formed part of the Charity Commission&#39;s review of the rules on charitable status. From 1st April this year, all charities are required to clearly demonstrate that their work has a &quot;public benefit&quot; in order to qualify as charities, and will be required to formally report on the public benefit requirement from March 2009.</p><p>One respondent, James Powell, m.d. of social sciences and humanities specialist Pickering &amp; Chatto Publishers, said: &quot;I just want a level playing field. Even though OUP wouldn&#39;t notice us much we certainly notice them. We are the ones taking the chances with the first time authors. They look very much a commercial business and certainly the US office is more commercial than anything.&quot;</p><p>Classed as charities due to their affiliation with their respective universities, OUP and CUP generate sizeable sums in tax-exempt profits. In the year to March 2007, OUP reported a turnover of &pound;453m, from which it generated &pound;71.1m in net profits.</p><p>Martin Woodhead of Woodhead Publishing said he felt that tax exemption for commercial publishing firms was &quot;unfair on a point of principle&quot;. He added: &quot;We compete head-to-head with a lot of these institutes and organisations. We publish near-identical books, and as a small publisher attempting to make a profit, our requirement to pay tax saps our ability to invest in further books or in staff and so on.&quot;</p><p>The m.d. of a small academic publisher agreed that OUP and CUP were &quot;overtly commercial in nature&quot;. He said: &quot;It certainly is an unfair advantage. Because of their charitable status, both OUP and CUP are able to publish monographs at a much lower price than us.&quot;</p><p>An OUP spokesman, while not commenting specifically on the criticisms, said: &quot;OUP, as a university press and a department of the University of Oxford, furthers the university&#39;s objective of excellence in research, scholarship and education by publishing worldwide. The university, of which OUP is part, has charitable status in the UK.&quot;</p>