Catholics call for enhanced Gift Aid scheme

  • James Somerville-Meikle

Source: Catholic Union

The Catholic Union, Caritas Social Action Network, and Catholic Bishops in England and Wales have joined forces to call for a higher rate of Gift Aid to be introduced in response to coronavirus.

In their letter to the Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, the Catholic groups highlight the "perfect storm" faced by many charities at this time - with falling revenue and greater demand for services.

The letter calls on the Government to introduce an enhanced Gift Aid scheme as soon as possible, so that charities can begin to benefit immediately from any change.

The current Gift Aid scheme allows charities to claim an extra 25p for every £1 donated. The Catholic groups are calling for a temporary higher rate of Gift Aid to be introduced so that every £1 donated to charity has the greatest possible benefit.

The Treasury previously operated a Gift Aid scheme based on 28p for every £1 donated. A campaign led by the Institute of Fundraising, and others, is calling for the rate to increase to 33p.

The idea of an enhanced Gift Aid scheme was raised in Parliament earlier this year by Catholic Union Vice-President, Mike Kane MP.

Catholic Union Head of Public Affairs, James Somerville-Meikle, commented: "In many cases, it has been charities and voluntary groups who have been on the frontline in responding to the impact of coronavirus on people's lives. The Government has come up with money and new schemes to help different sections of the economy and society. We're now asking for a fair deal for charities. A change to the Gift Aid rate has been introduced by the Treasury before, and there has never been a better time to look again at how this scheme could be used to support the work of charities."

A spokesperson for the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, said: "As we emerge from the Covid-19 lockdown society must be reopened not only to healthy, employed and financially stable members of society, but also to those marginalised and vulnerable people for whom this has been a time of stress, fear and uncertainty. The work of charities in ensuring the health, wellbeing and fundamental human dignity of all people, especially those most in need, cannot be underestimated. I hope that the Government will seriously consider improving the gift aid scheme to support this crucial work."

The full text of the letter follows:

Rt Hon Oliver Dowden MP
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
100 Parliament Street
London
SW1A 2BQ

10 August 2020

Dear Secretary of State

We are writing to call on the Government to introduce an enhanced Gift Aid scheme to support the work of charities during this difficult time.

Such a measure would be a great help to church groups and other Catholic charities, who help to support some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

The Catholic Church has a long history of helping those in need, particularly in times of crisis.

We are grateful for the support already given to the voluntary sector during the pandemic. The £750 million package of support, particularly the £200 million Coronavirus Community Support Fund, has given many charities a vital lifeline during this crisis. However, charities continue to face huge financial pressures and more support is urgently needed.

As we begin the task of getting our country back on its feet, it's clear that the work of many charities is needed more than ever.

In many cases, it is charities - particularly faith groups - that can reach people who are most in need of support. This has been seen in London through the work of the Central London Catholic Churches in supporting rough sleepers during the pandemic.

Charities face extraordinary demand for their services, and yet they also face extraordinary pressures. Many church groups and other Catholic charities are reporting a fall in income and fewer volunteers, at precisely the time their work is most needed. They face a perfect storm, which could force some to close their doors.

One way the Government could help is through introducing an enhanced Gift Aid scheme, so that every £1 donated to charity has the greatest possible benefit.

As you know, there are a number of suggestions for how an enhanced Gift Aid scheme could operate. The Treasury previously operated a Gift Aid scheme based on 28p for every £1 donated. We are aware of the campaign led by the Institute of Fundraising, and others, which is calling for the rate to increase to 33p for the next two years.

Our priority is to see an enhanced Gift Aid scheme introduced as soon as possible, so that charities can begin to benefit immediately.

There has never been a more urgent time to make this change.

The Government has been generous in responding to the needs of other groups and sections of society during this pandemic. It's time that charities got a fair deal.

We look forward to hearing from you.

The Catholic Union of Great Britain: The Voice of Catholics in Public Life

Signed

President: Sir Edward Leigh, MP
Vice-Presidents: Mike Kane MP, Baroness Hooper, Baroness Morris of Bolton OBE, Lord Clarke of Hampstead CBE, KSG, Mr Robert Flello, Professor John Haldane, Baroness Hollins, Dr Terence Morris, Mr John Deighan KSG,
Dr Anthony Cole KCSG, Mr John Barrie KCSG, Mr Michael Henderson KCHS
Nigel Parker
Director, The Catholic Union of Great Britain

Philip McCarthy
Chief Executive Officer, Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN)

Rt Rev Richard Moth
Bishop of Arundel and Brighton
Chair, Catholic Bishops Conference Department for Social Justice

cc. Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer

LINKS

Twitter: @CatholicUnionGB

Website: www.catholicunion.org.uk


Tags: Catholic Union, Gift Aid,

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