Gift Aid amounted to £1bn last year

'Better claiming by charities' sees figure rise by £49m on the year before

Charities received nearly a billion pounds from Gift Aid last year and appear to be getting better at claiming it, according to Government figures.

The figures were cited in response to a parliamentary question from Graham Brady, the Conservative MP for Altrincham & Sale West, who wanted to know how much Gift Aid had been reclaimed by individual charities.

Stephen Timms, financial secretary to the Treasury, said taxpayer confidentiality meant those figures could not be given, but he drew attention to an HM Revenue & Customs table listing the total amount of Gift Aid reclaimed by UK charities since the measure was instituted in 1990.

The table shows that the amount reclaimed by charities rose from £11m in 1990/91 to a provisional figure of £947m in 2008/09. The previous year, the figure was £898m. The biggest year-on-year rise was 87 per cent between 2000/01 and 2001/02, when the original £600 donation threshold for Gift Aid was dropped.

Total Gift Aid receipts rose by 43 per cent between 2004/05 and 2007/08. The UK Giving Report, produced by the NCVO and the Charities Aid Foundation, shows that individual giving rose by only 29 per cent in the same period, from £8.2bn to £10.6bn.

Ann Blackmore, head of campaigns and communications at the NCVO, said the increase in the take-up of Gift Aid was "testament to the hard work of charities and the commitment of individuals. But we estimate that £750m still goes unclaimed. This demonstrates the need for government to introduce measures to simplify the system."

Hannah Terrey, head of policy and public affairs at the Charities Aid Foundation, said she also regretted the £750m figure. "This is money that would be vital to helping the sector through the recession," she said. "Although charities have improved, there is still some way to go until all donations that can be are boosted through Gift Aid."

Barry Gower, director of Gift Aid consultancy Gain, said charities were still only reclaiming around 30 per cent of the Gift Aid available to them, and this figures had barely risen. "It can be compared with someone at 150 lbs who wants to weigh 120 lbs," he said.

"Losing two pounds this month and four pounds next month will mean a doubling of the weight loss rate, but the person will still only have achieved 20 per cent of their weight loss target."

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