Editorial: A pot-pourri of giving proposals

The Giving White Paper is silent on significant new tax incentives but contains a mixture of measures aimed at changing the culture and making giving more of a social norm, says Stephen Cook

Stephen Cook, editor
Stephen Cook, editor

The Budget introduced a small concession on inheritance tax for leaving legacies to charity, but last week's Giving White Paper mentioned nothing fresh, apart from an intention to devise a relief for giving art to the nation. Its silence on lifetime legacies was a particular disappointment to the sector.

Perhaps the most significant new proposal in the white paper was the £30m local infrastructure fund. This is intended to develop "more efficient local hubs to offer better integrated support services" for front-line organisations. Other aims include building an online resource bank and establishing stronger local partnerships with the public and private sectors. Measures on infrastructure have been conspicuous by their absence since the government abolished Capacitybuilders, so the move is welcome. Whether it is the sum of the government's plans on this front remains to be seen.

The other main initiative detailed in the white paper is a £10m Social Action Fund, which will be open to bids for funding for what the paper calls promising ideas and game-changing innovations that have the potential for national impact. As in many Office for Civil Society programmes, there is a preference for match-funded schemes.

Otherwise, the white paper is a pot-pourri of proposals. Some of them are well advanced, such as the deal with Link to enable more giving at cash machines and the plans for a new boost to payroll giving; others are more embryonic. The big question is whether, in combination with the relatively limited spending measures, they amount to a credible blueprint for "making giving the social norm", as the Prime Minister, David Cameron, put it when launching the document.

For many, the answer will be determined by their political allegiance, or their attitude to the big society. Others will prefer to echo the words of the former Chinese leader, Zhou Enlai, in his assessment of the effects of the French Revolution: "It's too early to say."

Read our analysis on the Giving White Paper

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