Gift Aid claimed by charities held up last year despite pandemic, official figures show

Total Gift Aid claimed by UK charities dropped only slightly last year despite the coronavirus pandemic severely curtailing many charities’ fundraising activities, according to official figures. 

HM Revenue & Customs yesterday published its annual update of UK charity tax relief statistics, which showed total Gift Aid claimed was £1.38bn in the year to 5 April compared with a record high of £1.4bn in the previous 12 months. 

The figure is part of £3.95bn in tax relief claimed by UK charities over the course of the year through non-domestic rate relief, stamp duty relief and other charitable reliefs including the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme. 

The equivalent figure for the previous year was £4.05bn, another record high. 

The Gift Aid claimed by charities in 2020/21 came from donations totalling £5.52bn, down from £5.6bn in the previous year. 

Charities received a record high of £2.41bn in non-domestic rate relief, up from £2.39bn in 2019/20. 

But the amount of relief claimed on stamp duty, which charities can claim when they buy land for charitable purposes, fell from £280m to £150m, its lowest level since 2012/13. 

The total claimed through the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme, which enables 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 gift, fell from £40m in 2019/20 to £30m last year. 

The total amount claimed through the scheme has consistently fallen short of the £100m a year the government expected it would be worth when it was introduced in 2013. 

Andrew Robinson, head of the public and third sector tax group at the accountancy firm RSM, said the Gift Aid figures showed how well the charity sector had adapted to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Despite the severe restrictions on charities’ normal fundraising activities, the enforced closure of venues and charity shops and the concern that donors have over their own finances, Gift Aid receipts for the year ended 5 April 2021 were only 1.4 per cent lower than they were in the previous year, and were still more than they had been at any time up to 2019.” he said.

“Clearly, the charity sector has responded well by using technology and other means to maintain close contact with donors resulting in a very healthy level of voluntary income.”

But he pointed out that the total number of organisations that received Gift Aid fell slightly to a six-year low of 69,750. 

“This confirms what we already knew – that a number of charities have been hit hard by the pandemic and ceased to operate, perhaps even permanently, so the lower level of donations has been spread across a smaller number of charities,” he said. 

“This has resulted in a small increase in total donations per charity, suggesting that those who have survived have embraced change and digitalisation and hence thrived.”

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