'City could pioneer US giving levels'

Britain could reach American levels of giving if professionals in the financial services industry gave five per cent of their estimated salaries and bonuses to charities, according to research by think tank Policy Exchange.

But individual charitable giving in the city has failed to keep pace with the growth in earnings in the financial services sector, according to its report Live and Let Give: Building a culture of philanthropy in the financial services industry.

The research, intended to encourage high-earning City professionals to become more philanthropic, was based mainly on interviews with leading City figures and philanthropists including Nicola Horlick and Sir Tom Hunter.

It recommends that financial services companies should provide charitable bank accounts to all employees and the providers of these accounts should be empowered by HM Revenue and Customs to implement tax relief on behalf of the holders.

Other recommendations are that charitable bank account providers and City firms should front a campaign explaining the tax incentives for gifts of shares to charity.

Louisa Mitchell , author of the report and research director of the Policy Exchange, said: "We have overtaken New York when it comes to making money. We have a few lessons to learn when it comes to putting something back into society.

"Many City professionals lack an awareness of how to give in a structured way that goes beyond one-off emotional responses to requests for assistance. We need to provide vehicles so that the financial services community, when it is engaged, can channel resources easily and effectively."

The report quotes entrepreneur Chris Mathias saying: "If you allow yourself to engage, then the philanthropy journey begins and it is virtually unstoppable. Once you start, it takes a really hard-hearted or brutal human being to stop."

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