While the Chancellor's Autumn Statement this afternoon mostly focused on the austerity measures that will continue until at least 2018, there were a few announcements or restated announcements that related to the charity and fundraising sector.
The Government has said that it will examine whether the administration of Gift Aid can be improved to reflect new ways of giving money to charity, in particular digital giving.
Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme
The Government confirmed that, following consultation and the passage of the Small Donations Bill through Parliament, some policy adjustments have been made to this Scheme, including:
- The maximum size of a small donation has been increased from £10 to £20.
- Charities now will need to have been registered and claiming Gift Aid for just two years to qualify, and not the three years originally specified.
- Charities will be required to match each pound of Gift Aid small donations scheme (GASDS) with 10 pence of Gift Aid donations.
- The introduction of the “community buildings” rule will allow a charity to claim topup payments on an additional amount of donations up to a value of £5,000 for each of its local groups.
- The requirement for charities to match each pound of Gift Aid small donations scheme (GASDS) with 10p of GA donations.
Sector bodies mostly welcomed these moves, but others focused on the problems of the sector that the Autumn Statement did not address.
Charity Tax Group
Charity Tax Group Chairman John Hemming said: “We welcome the Government’s announcement that it will examine how Gift Aid can be improved to reflect new ways of giving money to charity and in particular digital giving. CTG looks forward to working closely with HMRC to explore changes to the Gift Aid system for different forms of giving including text giving and online giving.
"We also welcome the confirmation by the Government that the matching criteria and eligibility criteria for the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme has been improved".
Charities Aid Foundation
John Low, Chief Executive of CAF, said: "It’s good news that the Government has responded to our call to modernise the Gift Aid system and has made a clear pledge to make it fit for the digital age.
“We need Ministers to act quickly to make Gift Aid fit for the 21st Century so people can give more easily online and using mobile technology. But we need the Government to go further, make it easier for people to give through the payroll and ensure charities do not face disproportionate cuts".
Directory of Social Change
The Directory of Social Change noted that, despite billions pledged for the country's physical infrastucture, "there was next to nothing to boost our country’s social infrastructure". It also lamented the fact that the Chancellor made no mention of paying back the £425 million in Lottery funding borrowed from good causes to pay for the London Olympics.
DSC’s Chief Executive Debra Allcock Tyler said: "The Government is clearly committed to getting Britain out of debt. But they still need to pay their own debt to communities and vulnerable people who sacrificed to support the Olympic Games – sadly there was no hint of this in the Autumn Statement."
Institute of Fundraising
Peter Lewis, Chief Executive of the Institute of Fundraising (IoF) said: "Gift Aid income is vital to fundraising and our members. The Institute of Fundraising has been pushing for simplification of Gift Aid and reductions to the administrative burden for charities for some time. We welcome the announcement of a review, and look forward to continuing our work with Government and charities to identify ways to modernise and improve Gift Aid."
NCVO was less positive about the Statement.
Ben Kernighan, Deputy CEO of NCVO said:
“The sobering assessment of the state of the country’s finances will provide little comfort to vulnerable people in our society and the charities that support them.
“As charities tighten their belts, or worse close their doors, it is ultimately the people they support who will suffer. Many charities help people find and keep a job, while others provide support to some of the most vulnerable people in our society, easing pressure on the Chancellor’s welfare bill.
“Charities are facing increased demand at the same time as falling incomes and rising costs. The real term cuts to the welfare support announced today will put further pressure on the charities who support people who are struggling.
“Relieving the pressure on charities is crucial and so the review of digital giving is welcome. We have already spoken to Treasury about how our members can feed into this process, as well as the 2013 spending review.”
The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) focused more on the impact of the cuts on the charity sector.
Chief Executive Martin Sime said: "Charities and other third sector organisations are already struggling to meet sky high demand for services. With 80% of these criminal welfare cuts still to kick in and no sign of any let-up on the biggest assault on the poor in generations, we are working together to do everything we can to mitigate the devastating effects these cuts are having on people across Scotland."
Other charities commented on the Autumn Statement and the impact it would have on their work.
Howard Sinclair, Chief Executive of the Broadway Homelessness and Support charity, said: "“The poor are being made to foot the bill once again for a struggling economy and, without a change in policy, homelessness in London could rise to unprecedented levels".
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