Scout Association considers lobbying for Gift Aid opt-out

Supporters back the idea, says chief executive Derek Twine

The Scout Association is considering lobbying the Government to change Gift Aid from an opt-in system in to an opt-out one.

Derek Twine, the charity's chief executive, told Third Sector it had surveyed supporters and local groups and held a meeting at which it asked members which issues they would like it to campaign about. He said the introduction of an opt-out system for Gift Aid was one of the most popular concerns.

A spokesman for the Scout Association said the charity was likely to choose two new issues to lobby on this year. Its trustees would hold a meeting to decide whether Gift Aid would be one of these, he said.

"There was a strong interest in Gift Aid reform," he said. "We make sure anything we campaign on has a direct effect on our members, and lots of them said Gift Aid was important because it helps to generate income for their local groups."

He said other popular issues included giving employees time off for volunteering and encouraging youth participation in local decision-making. The decision to step up the charity's lobbying work follows last year's 'rain tax' campaign, in which it persuaded the Government to let water firms run concessionary schemes for voluntary groups.

Stella Creasy, head of campaigning at the Scout Association, will leave the charity this month. Her replacement, who has not yet been appointed, will play a key role in determining which issues the charity campaigns on.

Last month, Third Sector reported that Cancer Research UK was trying to gather support among charities to campaign for a 30p composite rate on Gift Aid, which is one of the options for reform that was examined by the Treasury last year.

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