What we’d like from George tomorrow

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March 19, 2013 at 18:33

Tomorrow the Chancellor has the unenviable task of delivering the budget.  It’s not just the contents of the infamous red box that will be revealed at 12.30, we’ll also hear the Office for Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) prognosis for the economy and the public finances – and their judgement about whether the Government is on course to meet its medium-term fiscal objective. The OBR is expected to further downgrade growth forecasts and a triple-dip recession is a high possibility. With the Chancellor’s justification for his economic programme so far – that it would enable us to keep our stellar AAA credit […]

De-regulation for the sake of it?

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March 14, 2013 at 12:10

The Government’s ‘red tape challenge’ sounds like some sort of physical assault course; conjuring images of hapless workers wading through paperwork, red tape tied round their ankles, tripping over giant copies of the tax code and stumbling into open filing cabinets spilling over with old employment contracts.  Underneath the rhetoric, the implication is that the current state of ‘regulation’ hinders business and innovation; the Government wants us to tell them what bits to scrap.  Unless talking about bankers, the idea that regulation is a catalyst for fair business is all but lost.  This is despite the fact that we have […]

Public service delivery is risky business

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January 2, 2013 at 12:49

The end of the year saw government announcing a series of master classes to aid charities bidding for contracts to better understand the new public service delivery environment.  Due in Spring 2013, this complements the Commissioning Academy which aims to improve the relationship from the other side, helping commissioners understand how to interact with civil society. Both are welcome, much needed, and should help to improve understanding of the challenges and priorities for both parties – in particular informing their risk profiles. Although it’s a sweeping generalisation, it is fair to say that both charities and local authorities can be […]

FATCA: The facts (plus a few observations)

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December 20, 2012 at 10:50

Few people outside of the financial services industry have heard of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), and even fewer would expect it to have any direct impact on UK charities. However, the early signs are that this complex piece of US legislation will add another unwanted layer of red tape to UK charity regulation.  But before delving into what it might mean for charities, here’s a brief summary of the legislative beast that is FATCA: FATCA is new US legislation aimed at combating tax evasion by US residents using foreign accounts – an uncontroversial policy goal but with […]

Another zero rate bites the dust…

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August 29, 2012 at 16:08

With fewer distractions now the Olympics have finished, we’ve been reflecting on the charity finance-related policy developments of the year so far – many of which were introduced or reiterated in March’s budget.  The rather unpopular budget finally limped onto the statute book last month, following a number of u-turns and minus any reference to the ‘charity tax’ following widespread objections from the sector. One area where lobbying efforts were much less successful, however, was on the Government’s proposal to remove the VAT zero-rating for alterations to listed buildings.  The measure will result in significant additional costs to charities owning […]

Gift Aid without the paperwork… worth the risk!

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August 10, 2012 at 14:59

My edition of the textbook, ‘What Works’, has gathered a convincing layer of dust of late.  With a title reference to rhetoric on ‘evidence-based policy’, once a critical companion to my studies, the book now has a feeling of an old relic from the past.   Looking at recent proposals, many in the charity sector have asked whether we have lost something in terms of attempting to frame policy decisions within a sound evidence base.  It may sometimes be rhetoric, but surely it helps focus decisions on ‘what works’. Clear policy objectives and direction are difficult to identify among an untidy […]

Foot-shooting policy making

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May 14, 2012 at 15:30

The tax relief cap policy is the latest example of charities (and their beneficiaries) suffering disproportionately as a consequence of badly thought through policies – in other words charity and our civil society being an after-thought and not the first thought. Decisions are being made as a result of simplistic politically charged arguments, without considering the wider picture – in a time where society needs it most, fostering a strong civil society has become the last thought.   This is essentially an example of poor policy making, and poor policy making often has damaging results.  In the example of the tax relief cap […]