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Treasury to carry out review of Gift Aid in light of digital giving rise

By David Ainsworth, Third Sector Online, 5 December 2012

Treasury to carry out review of Gift Aid in light of digital giving rise

Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement says the intention is to improve administration to reflect the fact that people now give online and by text

The Treasury will carry out a review of Gift Aid to make sure it works with new ways of digital giving, according to documents released in today’s Autumn Statement.

"The government will examine whether the administration of Gift Aid can be improved to reflect new ways of giving money to charity, in particular digital giving," says the document, released after Chancellor George Osborne completed his speech today.

It did not provide any further details.

But Jane Tully, head of policy at the Charity Finance Group, said that briefings by the Treasury and HM Revenue & Customs said the process would begin with an informal review of Gift Aid that would examine how effectively it was being used in conjunction with new methods of digital giving.

"They want to know to what extent digital giving is covered by Gift Aid," she said. "At present, lots of digital giving platforms don’t enable charities to claim Gift Aid.

"The initial review is likely to lead to a more formal process, which is likely to be announced in next year’s Budget."

Tully said that both charitable umbrella bodies and companies involved in digital giving, such as the donation website JustGiving and the communications company Vodafone, which jointly launched the JustTextGiving mobile donation service, had called for the review.

"Without changes to the Gift Aid system, it might end up being redundant for a significant proportion of giving platforms," said Tully. "Younger donors in particular are giving digitally.

"We’ve seen that Gift Aid use is flatlining. There’s a recognition that even though the Gift Aid system has got us this far, it has greater scope and potential."

Tully said it was not clear what changes might be needed to make the Gift Aid system work online, and whether they would need to be financial, legislative or technological.

Other voluntary sector bodies, including the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and the Charities Aid Foundation, also welcomed the review.

Ben Kernighan, deputy chief executive of the NCVO, said: "Relieving the pressure on charities is crucial, 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."

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