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Debate: Are fundamental reforms needed to improve the use of payroll giving?

Third Sector, 13 March 2012

Improvements needed: Payroll giving

Improvements needed: Payroll giving

With only 2 per cent of the workforce donating through payroll giving, many have called for reforms to the system

Matthew Steward, corporate responsibility engagement manager, BT

Matthew Steward, corporate responsibility engagement manager, BT

Payroll giving is a triumph for employees, who benefit from a tax-efficient way to give to charity, companies, through increased employee pride, and charities, which receive a sustainable source of funding. While significant funds have been raised through payroll giving since its inception, only about 2 per cent of the workforce gives through this mechanism. Not all stakeholders are making the most of this income stream, worth £114m in 2010/11, and there are barriers to be removed. There is scope for a fundamental reform.

Tim Bunting, general manager, ShelterBox UK

Tim Bunting, general manager, ShelterBox UK

Yes, it does need to be reformed. It has issues in two different areas: public awareness and simplicity. Currently it's not very well publicised among businesses - having asked a number of business owners that support ShelterBox, I found that none were clear on whether they did or didn't offer payroll giving to their employees. There is also the view that it is complicated to set up and then to implement. If tangible benefits could be offered as a result of a business both signing up to payroll giving and promoting this to employees then I am sure the take-up would be much greater.

Trudi Beswick, chief executive, Caudwell Children

Trudi Beswick, chief executive, Caudwell Children

Payroll giving doesn't currently work for many charities. For a start, I don't think many businesses fully comprehend how simple implementing payroll giving can be and how effective it can be for fundraising. Second, there is no real incentive in place to encourage them to set it up. A reform also needs to help empower small to medium-sized charities to get their message across to business, because at present a small number of payroll giving agencies hold most control over the industry and, in effect, restrict the number of charities that stand to benefit.

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