Sector laments absence of lifetime legacies in the Giving White Paper

Acevo, the Institute of Fundraising and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations offer cautious welcome but say opportunity has been missed

Thomas Hughes-Hallett
Thomas Hughes-Hallett

Voluntary sector organisations have expressed their disappointment that there were no specific measures to introduce lifetime legacies in the government’s Giving White Paper.

The document, which was launched by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, at an event in Milton Keynes today, sets out measures aimed at increasing giving, including a £10m Social Action Fund and a year-long campaign to promote payroll giving.

Although voluntary sector groups welcomed many aspects of the paper, some said the lack of specific progress on legacy giving was a disappointment.

Several organisations have been pushing for the introduction of lifetime legacies, which allow donors to give assets to charities but retain the right to benefit from them during their lifetime. These have been popular in the US.

Thomas Hughes-Hallett, chair of the Philanthropy Review, which was set up to review philanthropy in the UK, said the paper showed the government was serious about fostering a greater culture of philanthropy but there was still a long way to go.

"We call on the government to continue to introduce new measures to encourage more people to give and people to give more," he said. "The question of lifetime legacies, for example, and whether they hold the key to unlocking significant contributions from the high net worth community, remains unanswered."

A statement from the Institute of Fundraising said the paper was "a big step in the right direction towards creating an active giving culture in the UK".

The statement said: "It is imperative that the government continues to support, promote and work in partnership with both the voluntary sector and commercial businesses if we are to turn these first changes into a sustainable reality."

However, it said it was disappointing that there was "no evident push from the government to encourage and increase legacy giving among donors in the UK".

The government has also "missed a golden opportunity to do more to invest in fundraising and the professional skills of fundraisers", it said.

John Low, chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, said he hoped the government would not "miss the opportunity to further charitable giving through initiatives such as lifetime legacies".

But he said the government had made progress towards a plan to encourage charitable giving in the UK. "While recognising that much of the development must come from charities and social entrepreneurs, the government has put its support behind excellent ideas, such as improved access to local philanthropy advice and networks, and enabling donations through government websites," he said.

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said he was pleased that some of the recommendations of the NCVO’s Funding Commission, such as an infrastructure fund, had been taken forward.

"It is encouraging that the government has considered a range of innovative and varied approaches to remove barriers to the giving of time and money and targeting under-represented groups," he said.

Peter Kyle, acting head of the chief executives body Acevo, said that although the white paper was a step forward, the government still needed to answer questions such as how the big society would work in deprived communities.

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