Reforms to the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme have come into force today, but the Charity Tax Group has called on the government to keep reviewing whether the changes have been successful.
The GASDS, which was introduced in 2013, allows charities to claim Gift Aid-like relief on up to £8,000 of small cash donations each year without having to submit paperwork for each individual claim.
The Small Charitable Donations and Childcare Payments Act makes several changes to the scheme, including the removal of the two-year rule, under which charities must have been registered for at least the past two years before being able to access the GASDS.
The act also scraps the requirement that charities must have made successful Gift Aid claims in at least two of the previous four years, which will enable newly formed charities to access the scheme, and allows small donations made by contactless payment to be covered by the GASDS.
The act gained royal assent at the beginning of this year.
The changes to the GASDS have been criticised by charity sector representatives, who fear that the reforms do not go far enough.
John Hemming, chairman of the CTG, said: "The relaxation of the eligibility requirements, clarification of the community buildings rules and extension to contactless payments are all welcome, and we hope that these changes will help to widen accessibility to the scheme, particularly among smaller charities.
"However, we encourage the government to continue to review the effectiveness of these changes and consider further reforms, if there is no significant additional take-up. The charity sector will work hard to ensure that it maximises the value of this important relief, and the CTG will work with others in the sector and government to promote the scheme as much as possible."
Andrew O’Brien, head of policy and engagement at the Charity Finance Group, urged charities to make the most of the changes to the scheme.
"Tens of millions of pounds of income is being left unclaimed and, at a time when charities are under significant financial pressure, it is important that we take advantage of every scheme that is open to us," he said.
"Although it is time-consuming, charities should take the time to read the new rules and see whether they can boost their income through this revised scheme.
"Although these changes are positive, they are still not enough, and government should work with the charity sector to monitor the implementation to see whether further simplification or expansion of the scheme might be necessary for it to really help small charities."