Sector leaders welcome amendments to Small Donations Bill, after months of campaigning
Sector leaders have welcomed Government amendments to the Small Charitable Donations Bill, that cleared its final hurdle in the Commons last night. After months of campaigning to make the Bill fairer and more accessible for charities, these amendments will ensure that more charities are able to benefit from the scheme. The Bill will now proceed to the House of Lords.
Following intense campaigning, there have been substantial changes to the Bill since its introduction:
- Reducing the qualifying period for charities to use the new Scheme (from three to two years of successful Gift Aid claims);
- Reducing the matching requirement (so that charities only need to have claimed £1 in Gift Aid to claim £10 – instead of £2 - through the Small Donations scheme);
- Giving powers to Treasury to alter or abolish the matching requirement at a later date.
The Government has also committed to review the Scheme after three years, including considering non-cash donations, such as web and text giving.
16,000 charities will benefit from changes to the matching requirement, according to Treasury figures.
Responding to these changes, Sir Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive of NCVO said:
"The Treasury has listened to the concerns of our members and the charity sector. We have argued for many months that the Bill risked excluding the charities that it was intended to benefit. These changes will ensure that more charities can benefit from the Scheme. As the Scheme gets up and running, it will be essential Government markets it effectively to charities and encourages take-up. We will apply further pressure to ensure that it reaches as many charities as possible."
Caron Bradshaw, Chief Executive of Charities Finance Group:
"It’s been a long process, but ultimately more charities will be able to benefit from scheme. It's fantastic that the Government has decided to open up eligibility for the scheme, and critically, to more of the smallest charities that need it most, with a shift from a 2:1 to a 10:1 matching requirement. The move to a 2 year eligibility will mean that charities don’t have to wait so long to access the scheme and that it could have the impact of encouraging more to use Gift Aid.
However, it’s a shame that there is no movement on the community buildings provisions. The Government is likely to have underestimated the number of charities affected by these rules. We need to ensure that charities working with vulnerable individuals and that can't fundraise during their activities, are not disadvantaged just because of their structure."
Peter Lewis, Chief Executive of the Institute of Fundraising, said
"We are pleased that the Small Charitable Donations Bill received its Third Reading yesterday. The scheme will bring much needed additional funds to boost the fundraising efforts of charities. While not all the changes that we campaigned for were implemented and the Bill is not perfect, we welcome that the Government listened to the concerns of our members by increasing the matching ratio and decreasing the eligibility requirements which will allow more charities to benefit from the scheme."
Paul Rees, Executive Director of the Charities Aid Foundation, said:
"It is good news that the Government recognises that Gift Aid is too complex and has made a step in the right direction by changing some of the details of the Small Donations Bill to make the system easier for small charities to handle.
"However, we think the system is in need of a thorough overhaul to make it fit for the modern digital age. Given the recent decline in giving, and cuts to public funding, there is an urgent need to cut form-filling and make it easier for people to use Gift Aid to back Britain's charities and help not-for-profit organisations survive and carry on their vital work."