The minister in charge of the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme has said he will re-examine the proposed rule that charities can claim only £2 under the scheme for every £1 they claim in Gift Aid in the same year.
Speaking last week during the committee stage of the Small Charitable Donations Bill, which will introduce the GASDS, Sajid Javid, the economic secretary to the Treasury, said he was "attached to the principle of matching", but that he would consider changing the ratio, which has been much criticised by charities.
The GASDS will allow charities to claim a Gift Aid-like relief of up to £1,250 on donations of cash without individual Gift Aid declarations.
But anti-fraud measures mean charities will be able to use the scheme in full only if they also claim at least £625 of Gift Aid in the same year. In addition, they must have already claimed Gift Aid for at least three of the last seven years and have a good record with HM Revenue & Customs.
"I am attached to the principle of matching, because it is necessary to deal with the risk of fraud and to combat it where it occurs," Javid said during a debate on an amendment, introduced by shadow charities minister Gareth Thomas, to scrap the matching clause in the bill. "The ratio itself is something that I am minded to look at again.
"If there were changes to the ratio, I would consider carefully whether the estimates would make much of a difference to the battle against fraud. I will look at that carefully."
Earlier in the week, during the same committee, Javid said that while the measures were mainly present to prevent fraud, removing them would also be awkward because they would lead to increases in the cost of the scheme to the public purse.
Charity umbrella bodies have been highly critical of the measures, saying they are too bureaucratic and will prevent the organisations that need the scheme most from benefiting. Charities also say that HMRC already has good anti-fraud measures in the regulations covering the standard Gift Aid procedure, and that extra safeguards are unnecessary.
Thomas gave the example of hospital radio associations, parent-teacher associations and scout groups as the type of organisation that would proportionately benefit most from the scheme, but would be least likely to take it up because of the level of paperwork.
He withdrew his amendment after Javid promised to reconsider the matching clause.