Charities might not be taking advantage of new rules on retail Gift Aid that came into force at the start of April because HM Revenue & Customs has not issued guidance on how they will work, according to the Charity Retail Association.
HMRC announced the new rules in December. They allow people who donate goods to charity shops to make one-off Gift Aid declarations, so that the charities involved don't have to write them after items are sold before the relief can be claimed. The CRA estimated at the time that the move would save charities millions of pounds in administration costs.
Under the new rules, according to HMRC, a charity that operates shops through a trading subsidiary can accept a single declaration for the sale of items worth up to £1,000 a year, whereas the smaller number of charities that operate shops directly can accept a single declaration for the sale of items worth up to £100 a year.
But Wendy Mitchell, head of policy and public affairs at the Charity Retail Association, said charities were reluctant to implement the rules before HMRC published its final guidance, and that this still had not appeared.
"We’re very happy about the changes," she said. "The old system involved a lot of effort, and charities received complaints from donors because they were being contacted so often.
"But I’m not sure how many of our members have implemented the new rules; I think a lot are waiting for the final guidance."
A spokesman for HMRC said it had "worked with stakeholders on how to reduce the administration of Gift Aid in regards to charity shop donations. The final guidance is being finalised with help from the sector and we hope to publish it very soon."