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2015 Budget brings biggest benefits to military charities

2015 Budget brings biggest benefits to military charities

The Chancellor of the Exchequer’s presentation of the government’s Budget statement for 2015 included a range of measures that will bring modest benefit to charities, with military charities receiving the largest assistance.

Military charity benefits

Military charities will receive a further £75 million in grants taken from fines levied against banks for manipulation of Libor. Some have already received grants from these bank fines.

Specifically, £25 million will be provided to help older veterans, including nuclear test veterans. For example, the Burma Star Association will receive £250,000 to help support the remaining veterans from the Burma campaign.

The regimental charity of every regiment that saw service in Afghanistan will receive funding worth a total of £10 million.

Funding will be provided to help to renovate the RAF museum at Hendon, the Stow Maries Airfield and the Biggin Hill Chapel Memorial. In addition, £2 million will be provided to create a museum to commemorate the UK’s flying heritage at Filton in Bristol.

£1 million will be given to the three benevolent charities which support the work of the Intelligence Agencies.

£3 million will be given over 5 years to the Royal British Legion to support members of the Armed Forces across the UK with mobility injuries, through Veterans Specialist Mobility Fund.

£185,000 will be granted to extend the funding of Skill Force for a further year to provide a link between ex-service personnel and disadvantaged school children.

£5 million will be given over the next five years to Project ADVANCE Plus to fund research into the psychological impact of battlefield injuries and severe battlefield trauma.

Funding for other charities

The government will make funds available for new helicopters for the air ambulance charities that serve Essex & Hertfordshire, East Anglia, Wales and Scotland, together with the Lucy Air Ambulance which transports children requiring urgent care.

The Church Roof Fund, announced in the Autumn statement, will be trebled in value to £40 million, due to the fact that it proved very popular.

Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme extended

The Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme will be extended to allow charities to claim Gift Aid on small donations totalling £8,000, an increase on the current figure of £5,000. An estimated 6,500 small charities are expected to benefit from it, but there were no provisions to simplify it and make it easier for more charities to embrace it.

This will generate an additional £15 million a year for those charities, according to NCVO. However, according to the same source, the take-up of the scheme is still low, with the result that only £23m out of £85m was claimed in 2014/15.

Tax benefits

Blood bike charities will benefit from VAT refunds, and so too will hospice charities from 1 April 2015.
Charities Aid Foundation’ CEO John Low saw these VAT developments as a welcome sign in the bigger and long-running issue of irrecoverable VAT for charities. He said:

“Movement, after so much lobbying on irrecoverable VAT is welcome for the vital charities that will benefit, and a chink of light for the sector as a whole”.

Orchestras will benefit from a tax credit, modelled on the existing theatre tax relief, with the result that they will receive a corporation tax deduction or a payable tax credit. David Sulkin OBE, Executive Director of Help Musicians UK, said that this should benefit over 175 orchestras and “encourage them to perform across the whole of the UK”.

Funding for fundraising training

The Office for Civil Society will take forward the procurement of a partner to deliver subsidised fundraising training to small charities in 2015-16.

New investment funds

The government, working with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the Charity Investors’ Group and the Charity Commission, will introduce a new Charity Authorised Investment Fund structure that will bring new investment funds established for charitable purposes under FCA regulation. According to Marcus Green of Bowbridge Green Ltd, this will ensure “they receive the same regulatory oversight and protections as funds for retail investors”.

Not surprisingly, Charities Aid Foundation’s CEO John Low, when welcoming this development, added, bearing in mind his organisation’s acronym, “it is vital that they are not referred to as CAFs”.

Spending cuts

In contrast with these modest benefits to the charity sector, the government has still committed to making £30 billion in cuts over the next year alone. Cuts over the past several years have contributed to increased demand on many charities’ services.

This includes £200 million to be cut from the Cabinet Office, which might have an impact on the Office for Civil Society.

What wasn’t in the Budget?

Karl Wilding at NCVO suggests five things I wish the chancellor had said, for example ‘We have a long-term plan for charities and the tax system’.

Big Lottery Refund campaign

The Directory of Social Change pointed out that the Chancellor “gave no indication of honouring the commitment to pay back millions raided from Lottery good causes to finance the Olympics. In fact, the word Olympics is not mentioned once in the entire statement”.

This year the Treasury again produced a series of infographics summarising the key decisions in the Budget. They cover a variety of issues and industries, but not one of the infographics refers to any of the initiatives designed to benefit the charity sector.


Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp and co-founder of Research massive growth in giving.

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