Charity legacy income up by 12.5 per cent in 2021, figures show

Charity legacy income grew by 12.5 per cent last year after it fell in 2020 due to probate delays and disruption related to the coronavirus pandemic, new data shows.

Figures from the legacy data company Legacy Foresight, published today, show that the 82 charities in its Legacy Monitor quarterly benchmarking programme reported £1.62bn in legacy income in 2021, up from £1.44bn in the previous year.

Legacy Foresight said income was boosted by “the continued strong performance of house prices and financial assets”, with the average value of a residual gift during 2021 increasing by about 6 per cent to £63,800.

The number of gifts was also up by 13.9 per cent year on year to 57,400, but the company said this growth, although significant, fell below expected levels given the elevated number of deaths caused by the pandemic.

Jon Franklin, chief economist at Legacy Foresight, said: “Legacy income has made a strong recovery in 2021, but it’s clear that there are still a number of issues impacting the estate administration system, slowing the release of funds.

“The volume of applications for probate hasn’t increased by as much as we would have expected given the number of deaths, and this suggests a slowdown further upstream in the estate administration process, adding to the delays in flow of legacy gifts to charities.

“But we can’t rule out the risk that some of the shortfall in bequests we had expected to come through could be explained by differences in the profile of those who died during the pandemic.

“For example, if those who died were less wealthy, they may have been less likely to leave a charitable gift.

“Despite this and the ongoing uncertainty of the current environment, we’re expecting to see legacy income escalating with further growth in the number of bequests arriving with charities during 2022 and beyond.”

Legacy Foresight says the 82 charities in its Legacy Monitor consortium account for about half of UK charity legacy donations.

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