UK should act now to become leading centre for international philanthropy

Melanie May | 12 February 2021 | News

A new report is calling for the UK Government, HMRC, the Charity Commission and civil society to act now to position the UK as the leading centre for international philanthropy and social investment.
The report, The UK as a Centre of Excellence for International Philanthropists and Social Investors, is by the Beacon Collaborative, supported by City Bridge Trust (the City of London Corporation’s charity funder) and EY. It is based on research and 40 interviews with experts, including international philanthropists, lawyers, accountants, wealth managers, regulators and policy officials, and also takes a comparative look at five other centres (the US, Switzerland, Singapore, Jersey and the Netherlands).
It shows the UK’s strengths as a strategic base for global philanthropists and social investors, and examines how it can bolster its position, pointing to an opening for the UK post-Brexit and at a time when Covid-19 is shining a spotlight on domestic and cross-border philanthropy. Based on calculations which size the global market at around £180billion, the report makes nine recommendations for action to strengthen further the UK’s position as a centre for philanthropy.
These include:
● Amending the Finance Act 2010 to apply UK equivalency regime to charities beyond many European jurisdictions (this would enable overseas charities to enjoy the same tax advantages as UK domestic charities)
● Investing in the UK’s Charity Commission and HMRC to support international philanthropists to set up a UK foundation and/ or donate money to UK charities.
● Appointing a “Philanthropy Commissioner” and an International Philanthropy and Social Investment Council.
● Investing more to promote the unique incentives of Gift Aid and Social Investment Tax Relief internationally.
● Considering how the Honours system might be used to encourage international philanthropy in the UK.
Cath Dovey, report author and Co-Founder of Beacon Collaborative, commented:

“There is an enormous opportunity for the UK to become a hub for wealthy individuals who want to support positive global change. Both Brexit and Covid-19 have caused challenges and uncertainty, but have also highlighted the importance of global collaboration to tackle global issues. We think that more overseas donors could be encouraged to set up foundations in the UK, supporting international needs as well as supporting UK charities and causes. The UK is a world-class financial and cultural centre, and in the future, can become the world-leading philanthropy centre.”

Keith MacDonald, Head of Wealth Management, EY, also commented, saying:

“The pandemic has challenged global philanthropy and social investment efforts, whilst highlighting important social and sustainability issues that need to be supported. The market is significant and growing, and there are real opportunities for the UK to lead the way, both domestically and internationally. Many of the components are already in place, and with a coordinated effort to build on these, the UK can become a global centre of excellence for philanthropists and social investors.”

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