Just one thing, Sir John…

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November 18, 2015 at 15:32

Last week I was delighted to attend NCVO’s Annual Hinton Lecture which saw an excellent speech from former Prime Minister, Sir John Major. Sir John touched on a number of subjects, far too many to consider in one blog post, and you can read the speech here or listen to it here. However one thing that struck me was Sir John’s answer in the Q&A after the speech around the need for investment in preventative services but that the public sector could not be expected to provide this in the coming years.

New Gift Aid Declaration: What do you need to know?

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October 22, 2015 at 16:03

HMRC has today published a new Gift Aid Declaration which all charities that claim Gift Aid will need to be using by the 6th April 2016. So what do you need to know and, more importantly, what do you need to do?

Tackling some myths on the Spending Review

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September 10, 2015 at 17:21

If you listen very carefully when you walk down Whitehall you’ll hear the grumblings and table thumping of officials as they prepare for the Spending Review due to be announced on the 25th November 2015. The Spending Review is very much akin to a ‘super’ Autumn Statement, it is a review of all public spending to ensure that it meets the government’s priorities in an efficient and cost-effective way over this Parliament. Despite government spending cuts, the voluntary sector received £13.3bn in income from government grants and contracts (local, national and international). So this is going to be an incredibly […]

The time for ‘rational optimism’ – A response to Matt Ridley

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August 19, 2015 at 10:19

Another week and another article from a national newspaper calling for a ‘radical’ rethink about the charity sector (or a ‘radical cleansing’) as Viscount Ridley put it. It’s certainly been a tough few months for charities which have seen considerable scrutiny about how they operate. Although it can be uncomfortable at times, we should always welcome public debate into how charities work and the activities that they undertake. However, while we should welcome scrutiny, we should not be afraid to combat misconceptions about the sector. Public understanding and trust in charities will not be enhanced if we do not correct […]

Public benefit is at the core of both charities and the tax system

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August 13, 2015 at 09:45

Some of you may have read a recent column in the Financial Times by its Money Week Editor, Merryn Somerset Webb entitled “Charity should not begin with a tax break (£)”. As a sector we are used to having to defend our privileged status, and we should never forget that it is a privilege, in the tax system. Most readers will remember the NCVO & CAF campaign “Give it back, George” that successfully got the last Coalition government to exclude charitable donations from a cap on personal tax reliefs. Only last year, we had to defend attempts to redefine a […]

Financial sustainability won’t be easy for the charity sector

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July 22, 2015 at 09:48

Today, has seen the launch of the review into the financial sustainability of the voluntary sector, conducted by CFG, NCVO, Institute of Fundraising, Locality, NAVCA and Small Charities Coalition. It has been a long piece of work, involving a call for evidence from the voluntary sector, with more than 100 charities responding to a detailed survey; pouring over existing statistics, synthesising various strands of research and forecasting the future of the sector’s finances. The full report, which you can download here, is a wakeup call for the charity sector, government and funders. Although the economy appears on the road to […]

Some lessons from HMRC’s Higher Rate Gift Aid Donors report

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July 17, 2015 at 09:30

HMRC has published some research that it had commissioned on understanding charitable giving and Gift Aid behaviour amongst better-off individuals. Although I am not convinced that this was the best use of HMRC’s budget (see below), there are some lessons that we can learn from this research – despite the small sample size. Here are a few things to take away from HMRC’s research: We need to improve public awareness of Gift Aid Despite the individuals being interviewed earning significant amounts and potentially claiming thousands of pounds worth of Gift Aid, it is concerning that many participants were confused about […]

We can’t ignore the charity sector’s financial situation

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July 13, 2015 at 15:34

Our sector has had a few days to recover from the decisions outlined in the Chancellor’s Budget last week. Although charities were not the focus, the decisions taken within it are going to have a big impact on our operating environment for the coming five years. Often we talk about the issues facing the sector in isolation; however, this is not how charities will experience them. It seems likely that over the next few years three things are going to put considerable pressure on already fragile financial situation: 1)    More cuts in government income, both grants and contracts 2)    Increasing […]

#volsecbudget 2015 – CFG Live Blog

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July 8, 2015 at 09:12

09/07/2015 – 19:16 – AF This afternoon I attended the IFS post-budget briefing. Given the scale of the changes introduced it covered a lot of ground in a relatively short amount of time so will I provide a more detailed update later. But for now, I am going to briefly summarise the key issues that I think are relevant to charity finance. I do also recommend that you take a look at the materials available on their website. The opening remarks made by director of the IFS, Paul Johnson, neatly provides the IFS’s over-arching narrative: that it is hard to see […]

How to avoid errors when claiming tax reliefs

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June 22, 2015 at 10:10

Nearly 70,000 charities claim tax reliefs worth billions every year. However common errors not only create problems for charities, but increase the costs for HMRC, creating delays and diverting funding that could go towards promoting the tax reliefs towards helping people to fill out their claim forms. Last year, HMRC provided a helpful ‘Top Tips’ sheet which charities can use to make the claiming process smoother. However, here is a quick overview of some of the top errors and some tips for avoiding them. Common errors when claiming 1. Duplicating the amounts of Gift Aid and Gift Aid Small Donations […]