The year in finance: 2011

Third Sector reporter David Ainsworth looks back at the big stories of the past twelve months

The Budget
The Budget

The year saw the launch of several new tax reliefs for charities. In the Budget in March, Chancellor George Osborne announced a 10 per cent cut in inheritance tax for people leaving 10 per cent of their estate to charity, the scrapping of paperwork on Gift Aid claims of up to £5,000, and tax relief on gifts of works of art. In the autumn statement, the government unveiled plans to implement a European Union tax relief, which will mean charities can set up organisations to share services without incurring VAT.

Charity accounting rules were under the microscope this year, with the Accounting Standards Board announcing several decisions that will affect sector accounting. These included a proposal that charities would have to value every item donated to their shops, but the ASB later backtracked on the idea.

The wholesale lender Big Society Capital, which will invest money in social finance organisations, appointed a chair and chief executive, changed its name from the Big Society Bank, and made the first investment with money from dormant bank accounts. Although it still needs permission from the European Commission and the Financial Services Authority before it can open for business, Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society, has said he was confident this would be early next year.

After pressure from MPs, the Payments Council announced it would scrap plans to remove cheques by 2018. Instead, it promised that they will be available "for as long as customers need them".

Charities also saw a drop in their income from a number of sources. New studies revealed a drop in fundraising income and in government funding.

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