Third Sector groups discuss Gift Aid reform with Treasury 26/10/09

A group of third sector bodies have met with Treasury officials to continue discussions on Gift Aid reform and in particular the group’s proposals for a change to an “opt out” system.

Currently Gift Aid is an opt-in system - donors have to say they are eligible and willing to add Gift Aid to their donation.

The coalition, made up of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations, Institute of Fundraising, National Council for Voluntary Organisations, Charity Finance Directors’ Group, Charities Aid Foundation, Save the Children and the Charity Tax Group has been calling for this to be changed to an opt-out system.

This means whereby donors are assumed to be eligible and willing to add Gift Aid to their donation unless they explicitly say otherwise.

Despite the Treasury reassuring the group that the Government is committed to improving Gift Aid, officials gave no indicator at the meeting of the direction which reform is likely to take.

The group have been working for some months on the feasibility of an “opt out” system, however the officials were unable to commit either way to the proposal, instead stating that they were “still considering a number of possible options” for reform.

The group have been working closely with the Treasury and HMRC for two years to provide
evidence on the need for change and the shape the sector believes the reform should take.

This has included working with experts from a number of fields to assess the feasibility of various options.

The Treasury commissioned their own research with donors, this year, to explore
structural changes to Gift Aid.

Following their meeting, the group have written to Stephen Timms, financial secretary in the
Treasury, expressing their disappointment at the lack of progress that has been made on their proposals and requesting a meeting with him in person.

Stephen Bubb, chief executive of ACEVO said: “It is disappointing that we are currently no clearer on the government’s plans for the reform of Gift Aid. We do however look forward to receiving the Treasury’s research on options for reform.

"The group will continue to lobby the minister for reform and work with the Treasury to ensure that reform is a priority commitment.”

Lindsay Boswell, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising, added: “The work on developing proposals for Gift Aid reform has seen an unprecedented move by the
sector to work together and, while we are disappointed to not yet to have a response from
Government, we hope that this work will see Treasury announce positive changes for the future of Gift Aid.”

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