Charities failing to cash in on Gift Aid

Only 17 per cent of small charitable attractions are claiming Gift Aid because of the costs and complications involved in administering it, according to a new survey.

Regional tourist board Tourism South East questioned 248 organisations, such as museums and zoos, about the impact of the new rules for claiming Gift Aid on admissions, which were introduced in April 2006.

Under the new rules, if a visitor chooses to make a payment that is at least 10 per cent more than the day admission charge, the whole payment can be treated as a donation and Gift Aid can be claimed.

It can also be claimed if a visitor makes a payment and in return is allowed the right of entry for at least one year.

Small attractions have complained the rules are too complicated for visitors and that the extra administrative costs they require barely offset the money they get back (Third Sector, 14 March). One organisation, Magna Science Adventure Centre, estimates that it lost £40,000 implementing the new rules.

The research shows that only 17 per cent of attractions with 20,000 or fewer visitors per year claim Gift Aid under the new rules. However, 78 per cent of those with 50,000 or more admissions are claiming Gift Aid.

Christine Melia, director of commercial services at Tourism South East, said: "There is clear evidence that the introduction of Gift Aid on admissions has not delivered a major new income stream for smaller charitable attractions."

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