Wednesday, 29 December 2010


The government green paper published today is a welcome boost for the need to increase giving in the UK. It's shocking but true that 8% of us account for nearly half of all giving. And as The Archbishop of Canterbury reminded us at Christmas ,the rich are pathetic at sharing their good fortune. So Acevo fully supports the notion that we need to establish a giving norm of 1%. It was an idea canvassed by Greg Clark MP when in opposition so let's see how we can get it implemented.

Following objections from the Treasury, the green paper is noncommittal about fresh tax breaks for giving, but says many of the existing incentives are poorly understood by UK corporations. Payroll giving is perceived as too time consuming by many small businesses, while big corporate donors tend to give to a narrow range of causes likely to be uncontroversial with shareholders.

And the fact that charities will face a major new tax bill from January 4th when VAT rises, they will lose £140 m when gift aid relief is removed in April and they continue to lose millions because of the Treasury refusal to reform the gift aid scheme. All of this against unprecedented and savage cuts and rising demand. . The Green Paper would have rung more true HMT dropped the Scrooge act and continued transitional relief and started on the urgent reform of the system.

Acevo has for years argued one sensible reform would be to reverse the declaration on the gift aid forms so you opt out if you are a tax payer , rather than the current opt in. A good example of how this loses charities money was my own experience at the SouthwarUk Cathedral Carol Service last week. They were excellent in providing the gift aid envelopes and I filled mine in , but the declaration was so small I missed it until the excellent David Fielding pointed out my error. How many other taxpayers sitting there did the same thing? Of course the Treasury resist even this simple change as they don't want us to take full advantage of the scheme. Until the Government speaks with one voice and the Treasury play their part in encouraging giving I'm afraid there will be hollow laughs at ideas to get people to give at the cash point. No doubt the Treasury have already announced that they cant allow you to gift aid cash point machine donations. If you donate by mobile phone you also can't gift aid. So I shall be unable to wish George Osborne a Happy New Year till he gets a grip and sorts all this.

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