Gift Aid rate increase unlikely, says Nick Hurd

Setback for sector umbrella organisations as civil society minister prioritises cuts in bureaucracy

The government is unlikely to increase the rate of Gift Aid for charities, civil society minister Nick Hurd told delegates at the Institute of Fundraising’s National Convention yesterday.

Hurd's comments will come as a blow to sector umbrella organisations, including the IoF, which have been lobbying the Treasury for a composite rate of Gift Aid. A composite rate would mean all donations would receive a higher rate of relief but donors who paid higher rates of income tax would no longer be able to claim any personal tax relief.

However, Hurd told delegates: "The prospect of more taxpayers' money to prop up Gift Aid is, I think, unlikely."

He stressed that the government wanted to prioritise making it easier for charities to claim the tax relief. "We are determined to drill down on bureaucracy and simplify the Gift Aid process," he said. "That's our short-term priority."

The minister also acknowledged that the biggest threat to philanthropy was the state of the economy, but added: "Our number one priority is to reboot the economy and get back on the path of growth."

Later in his speech, Hurd described reducing the deficit as the government's "overarching priority", adding that its ambition was to encourage people to give more time and money. "We want to try to nudge this country to play its part in the big society," he said.

The minister also claimed the government was delivering the big society by encouraging a new generation of community organisers through the Community Grant Programme, the Big Society Bank and the National Citizen Service scheme.

"Getting to the big society will be very painful and difficult because of the cuts agenda, but it’s my job to ensure the state acts responsibly and minimises the damage to social capital," he said.

Hurd told the convention that he was donating one per cent of his income to charity, with beneficiaries selected by his children. He urged all who could afford it to do the same.

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