The Big Society - steps in the right direction?
“A society should not be judged just by the strength of its economy, but also the compassion of its people”
So said Chancellor George Osborne, as he announced a series of reforms within his March 2011 budget which are designed to encourage the act of philanthropy, which is, in itself, an essential ingredient of the much heralded Big Society concept.
Paradigm Norton welcomes any steps which are designed to encourage and facilitate charitable giving, and the Chancellor’s announcements certainly indicate a positive intent in this direction, with new initiatives being introduced at both “ends” of the giving process.
From the donor’s perspective, we regularly discuss with clients the possibility of making charitable donations via their estate. There is now a further incentive in place to encourage this, in that from April 6 2012, those who give 10% of their net estate to charity will in turn receive a 10% reduction in their inheritance tax charge.
From the charity perspective, there will also be helpful changes to Gift Aid. From next month, charities will be able to claim Gift Aid on “small donations” up to £5,000. This, together with the planned introduction in 2013 of a digital platform for Gift Aid collection, demonstrates a willingness to make life better for charities.
Further features of the budget announcements:
- an increase in Gift Aid benefit limits from £500 to £2,500
- continuation of Community Interest Tax Relief (CITR)
- consultations concerning both the effectiveness of CITR and how best to encourage donations of pre-eminent works of art to the nation
suggest that the chancellor has been listening. US style lifetime legacies, whereby donors can make irrevocable tax deductible donations during their lifetimes, did not feature on this occasion. Does this mean that the idea has been shelved, or might it feature at a later date, as the Chancellor plays his part in encouraging increased generosity, within the constraints of an economy in which other battles are still being fought?