Accountancy firm Baker Tilly has welcomed many of the recommendations in today’s report from the Joint Committee on the Draft Charities Bill.
Carol Sellwood, Director of the firm’s charities and education group, said: “There is a lot of very good news in this report. I am particularly pleased to read of the Committee’s recommendation to allow charities to trade more extensively. Trading is absolutely essential to ensure the healthy future of our charities in the UK. Last year the voluntary sector’s income in the UK was £16.5 billion, with one third of that arising from contracts and trading.”
She added: “The Committee’s recommendation would allow charities to trade within the charity and enjoy tax exemption on trading income. The most important part of this is that the report recommends that this trading is subject to an overall limit higher than the current £50,000 small trade tax exemption.”
“The Committee has clearly listened to the evidence put before it and as a result has come up with a very sensible, practical change. Now we need to make sure that all not-for-profit organisations and charities take part in the suggested consultation and have their say on what the new upper limit should be.
“There is a clear need to collate evidence on the amount involved in the various trade activities carried out by charities to ensure a practical limit is proposed.”
Of the rest of the report, Sellwood said she was pleased to see so much decisive action being suggested. “There is a lot of good news in this report for charities. I am extremely pleased to see the recommendation that the Government consults the Scottish Executive on the implications for national charities of any differences between the two draft Bills. It is crucial that any anomalies and confusion between the two Bills are ironed out.
“Only last month, following the progression of the draft Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Bill, we spoke publicly about our concern that all charities undertaking profile raising or fundraising activities in Scotland could face more red tape and costs by having to register with the newly formed Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR).
“Our concern was that charities would be following the Charities Bill in England and Wales, not realising that they also needed to be taking into consideration a draft charities bill in Scotland. The recommended closer working of the Government and Scottish Executive is hugely welcomed.”
Sellwood added that she was also pleased to see the recognition for a definition of religion to ensure non-deity and multi-deity groups satisfy the definition of ‘religion’ for charitable purposes.