HM Revenue & Customs has received "several hundred" fraudulent claims or bogus attempts to register for Gift Aid worth more than £20m over the past two years, it has revealed.
The figure emerged in a response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act made by the Hospital Broadcasting Association, the umbrella body for hospital radio, which asked for statistics on the amount of detected or suspected Gift Aid fraud over the past five years and the number and amount of fraudulent claims.
Responding to the request, John Kington, head of the charities technical team at HMRC, said the information requested was exempt because it could "allow opportunistic individuals to identify where HMRC is devoting resources and arrange their activities to escape challenge, thus putting at risk proper assessment of tax".
But he said he was able to provide information outside the Freedom of Information Act.
"HMRC has received several hundred fraudulent claims or attempts to register for Gift Aid over the past two years, some of them linked," he said. "Included in these is more than £10m in fraudulent claims from charities in each of the years to March 2011 and 2012 that were identified by HMRC risk-assessment processes before repayment was made."
Nigel Dallard, secretary of the Hospital Broadcasting Association, told Third Sector that the charity, which has about 225 members, made the request to help it formulate its response to the open consultation on the Small Charitable Donations Bill, which has been opened to public consultation as part of its passage through parliament.
The bill includes measures to implement the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme, which is intended to enable charities to claim Gift Aid-type payments on small donations of up to £5,000 a year without individual paperwork.
Dallard said his charity was concerned that the proposed requirements for the scheme, which include having submitted Gift Aid claims in each of the past three years, meant that many of his charity’s members would not be able to apply for the top-up payment despite being the types of organisation that would best profit from it.
"Very few stations have a major donor that gives them a regular donation that would be eligible for Gift Aid," he said.
He said the HBA would be studying the HMRC response before deciding how to respond.