Friday 8 January 2010

A member speaks, and time to act on Gift Aid.

I thought it was worth reproducing a comment from the CEO of one of the country's largest and most respected charities, the WRVS. Lynne has been blogging about the disgrace of the Burnham reversal of reforms in DH.

As she says:

"But what’s worrying many of us in the third sector is that it seems to be part of a trend. On the one hand, DH and the wider Government talk about partnership and the encouragement of the third sector - but then guidance is issued (or proposed) that seems to give precedence to the interests of the NHS over any sort of partnership agreement. Whether it’s about volunteering and the control of volunteers managed by third sector bodies; whether it’s decisions to take on the apparently profit making aspects of third sector activities in hospitals and communities; whether it’s the DH appearing to go after charitable funds in direct conflict with the requirements of the Charity Commission and Charity Law – it all seems to express a fundamental lack of understanding of the independent rights and accountabilities of third sector bodies. And it really does feel as though the Third Sector is not yet taken seriously . "

This sums up well the feeling amongst members working in Health and Social care. It is a great shame that Labour is squandering the goodwill it has built up over the last decade.

And it is not simply in health there is this lack of interest. As I blogged yesterday the Chancellor has shown scant attention to the letter from 260 sector CEOs offering to engage in talks on sensible public spending cuts.

But the Government has a chance to show commitment by tackling Gift Aid and making changes on higher rate .

Lindsay Boswell (the great CEO of the Institute of Fundraising) and I have written to Treasury with the following demands,

" We are writing to ask that you:

•set a clear timetable for the forum’s consideration of Gift Aid reform options, starting as soon as possible in January 2010 and ending ahead of the 2010 Budget;

•enable us to engage with you productively on Gift Aid reform by specifying a small number of options that you are prepared to consider, thereby moving us on from the current position of being ‘open to all options’. Given the extensive evidence base we now have on the three options for reforming higher-rate Gift Aid detailed in your recently-published research, we would suggest these should be the options we narrow the discussion down to.

Without a clear steer from you on the two above points, we fear it would be difficult for us to work together with you in the productive process of engagement that we would hope for."

Frankly we have had two years of unproductive discussion on Gift Aid and without a clear response to these points we will not be engaging in a charade of further pointless discussion. The sector faces significant funding difficulties. Gift Aid reform would be a huge benefit for us in meeting the increased demand from all our beneficiaries. Last year it netted £1bn for charities so it is a hugely important source of support. Ensuring the Gift Aid scheme covers all the tax for higher rate tax payers would be a huge boost at a time of great demand.


Robin Bogg said...

Slow down with the blogging, I can't keep up...

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