Introducing more financial incentives for giving would be the best way for the government to show it is serious about encouraging a culture of philanthropy in the UK, according to the deputy chairman of HSBC.
Speaking yesterday at a panel discussion about the Giving Green Paper, organised by the European Association for Philanthropy and Giving, Lord Robin Janvrin said the paper had not mentioned the issue, which was the elephant in the room.
"If ever there was a way of the government giving a lead and showing they were serious, it’s in that area," he said.
At a recent meeting of philanthropy advisers to discuss the green paper, said Janvrin, it was agreed that offering financial incentives would be the single most important encouragement for giving.
Sophia Oliver, deputy director of giving in the strategy unit at the Cabinet Office, said the most persuasive thing people could do was to show the government evidence relevant to the UK tax system that lifetime legacies could work.
She said the government wanted giving to increase but it might not be best placed to effect that itself.
"The government is very often not the right messenger," she said.
Simon Weil, a partner at the law firm Bircham Dyson Bell, questioned how people could provide the government with evidence of something that has never happened here. "You’re setting an impossible task," he said.
After the meeting, Oliver said that the Cabinet Office had already received more than 100 responses to the green paper.
During the session, she said it was expecting many more responses before the end of the consultation, 9 March, and urged people to set out a list of priorities in their responses.
"There are only so many people in my team," she said. "I would suggest it is worth prioritising where you want action most quickly."