Autumn Statement 2013: what news for charities?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer today revealed his Autumn Statement 2013, outlining tax and spending policy changes for the coming year. After a frantic bout of tweeting and speed reading, here is a summary of some of the main highlights for charities and charitable giving:

1) Social investment We have known since the Budget earlier in the year that there was going to be a new tax incentive for investment in social enterprise, and were involved in the consultation on the design of the new incentive that took place over the summer (see our response). However, it is good to see the government’s commitment to social investment being reaffirmed and also interesting to note the extension of the scheme to investment in social impact bonds (which would not have been possible under the original proposals). The news of a “social investment roadmap” to be outlined next year is also very interesting. The possible areas of focus include seeking state aid clearance for a larger tax relief scheme, looking at ways to support indirect social investment and making changes to the Community Interest Company (CIC) structure to make it more appealing to investors. We will watch this space with interest!

2) Gift Aid reform: The Government has confirmed that it intends to go ahead with plans to make Gift Aid work better for inline intermediaries, as outlined in the Gift Aid and Digital Giving consultation earlier this year.  CAF submitted a response in which we detailed our reservations about how this would work in practice, and we will obviously engage with the Treasury and others as they work through the detail, to ensure the best result for charities.

3) Charity tax avoidance: Changes are to be made to the definition of a “charity for tax purposes” in order to curtail the use of charitable tax reliefs for avoidance purposes. Given the recent NAO report on the Cup Trust affair, this seems like a sensible move, and anything which bolsters trust in charities is welcome. It will be vital to ensure that no legitimate charities are adversely affected by any changes.

4) Joint registration of charities: A new IT system that allows charities to register with the Charity Commission and HMRC at the same time is to be introduced. This is very welcome, as the current dual registration scheme simply puts an additional, unnecessary administrative burden on charities.

5) Discount on Business Rates: As is often the case, the biggest immediate change for many charities may actually come from a non-charity specific policy. In this case it is the introduction of a discount of up to £1000 against business rates for retail premises, which will benefit charities that have shops.

In summary- no new major announcements, just more detail on things we already knew and some small but welcome changes. And perhaps most importantly, no nasty surprises!

Rhodri Davies

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