Only ten MPs, or 1.5 per cent of the total, donate to charity through payroll giving, despite the government’s pledge to set an example last year, according to figures from the Geared for Giving Campaign.
The campaign, launched in 2008 to encourage more employers to promote payroll giving, obtained the information through a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
In its 2013 Payroll Giving consultation, the government said it recognised its responsibility as one of the country’s largest employers to "lead by example" on workplace giving. But only 10 out of 650 MPs donates in this way, the figures obtained by Geared for Giving show.
Only one additional MP has signed up to payroll giving since Sajid Javid, former Financial Secretary to the Treasury, wrote last year to parliamentary colleagues, urging them to take part in the initiative.
Geared for Giving said it was unable to name all ten, although it hopes to do so soon. Tim Yeo, MP for South Suffolk, is one of them and has been helping with the campaign. The Cabinet Office confirmed that Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society, who has lent his support to encouraging greater use of the system over the past two years, also uses payroll giving.
Geared for Giving has been targeting MPs through social networking site Twitter over the past few weeks in an attempt to raise their awareness of the tax benefits of payroll giving.
MPs that engaged with the campaign by responding to messages or retweeting posts include Andrew Gwynne, Anne Milton, David Burrowes and Fabian Hamilton.
Peter O’Hara, managing director of Workplace Giving UK, the professional fundraising organisation that funds the campaign, said that like many employers, MPs were unaware of the tax benefits of giving from pay.
"We need to raise awareness so they not only donate that way themselves but also encourage companies in their constituencies to give through pay," he said.
O’Hara said it was especially important for higher-rate tax payers to donate in this way as a donation from them results in more being received by the charity than the same-size donation from a lower-rate tax payer. "It’s not a criticism of MPs not being generous," he said. "It’s a question of giving more effectively."