Gift Aid Forum 'disappointing and unambitious', says Stephen Bubb

But the head of chief executives body Acevo also welcomes 'silver lining' of Justine Greening's commitment to looking into reform

Stephen Bubb
Stephen Bubb

The outcome of the Gift Aid Forum was "disappointing and unambitious", according to Stephen Bubb, head of the chief executives body Acevo.

The forum, a group of Treasury officials and charity umbrella body representatives that was set up to consider changes to the Gift Aid system, held its closing meeting yesterday, with Justine Greening, economic secretary to the Treasury, in attendance.

The meeting discussed a report by Peter Fanning, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, that made recommendations based on the forum’s recent meetings. It also examined government commentary on the findings.

According to those present, Greening told the meeting that the report would be published on the Treasury’s website on Friday.

Bubb said he was disappointed with the forum’s outcome. "It doesn’t take a Treasury economist to work out that standardisation and more toolkits will do little to compensate the sector for the loss of £100m in transitional relief and £140m due to the rise in VAT, plus swingeing spending cuts," he said.

"There are lessons for our sector here, too, and those of us involved will need to reflect on what I think we should all accept has been a collective failure to achieve more for the sector at a time of need.

"But I do very much welcome the silver lining in Justine Greening’s commitment to leaving ‘no stone unturned’ in looking at other ways to support the sector through the tax system."

Hannah Terrey, head of policy and public affairs at the Charities Aid Foundation, said she was pleased the minister had showed commitment to taking forward some of the recommendations in Fanning’s report.

"CAF figures show that a third of the population have never heard of Gift Aid," she said. "So we particularly welcome the focus on raising awareness and understanding amongst donors and charities."

She also welcomed the government’s "enthusiasm for and openness to" using technology to improve the Gift Aid system, which she said would make it simpler to administer.

"It is now up to the sector and the government to move things forward in order to encourage growth and innovation," she said.
James Allen, senior policy officer at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said he felt the forum had gone as far as it could in its current format, and he welcomed the government’s efforts to simplify the Gift Aid system where it could.

No one from the Treasury was available for comment.
The forum has been criticised by various sector bodies in recent months.

In October, the heads of Acevo, the Charity Tax Group and the Institute of Fundraising wrote to George Osborne, the Chancellor, expressing their disappointment at the forum’s progress.

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