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Ministers face 'firing squad' at Giving Summit

09 May 2012 News

Ministers attending last night’s Giving Summit faced a room of sector representatives united and angry in their opposition to the tax relief cap.

Admiralty House

Ministers attending last night’s Giving Summit faced a room of sector representatives united and angry in their opposition to the tax relief cap.

Last night, minister for civil society Nick Hurd and Treasury Secretary David Gauke faced a room of about 40 sector leaders and philanthropists who were reportedly unanimous in their opposition to the proposal,, to cap the tax relief on donations made by higher-rate taxpayers to 25 per cent of income or £50,000.

Mark Astarita, chair of the Institute of Fundraising, said that the ministers appeared responsive in front of the vocal crowd at Admiralty House (pictured) in Whitehall.

“Hats off to them, they sat there and David in particular took it on the chin,” he said.  “They’ve heard, they’ve listened and they’ve taken it on the chin. They’ve taken a bit of a pounding really. In all fairness to them, I thought they gave an excellent account of themselves.

“It wasn’t far short of a firing squad really.”

Astarita added that the government was to be applauded “because the one thing they’ve managed to do – which no one has ever managed to achieve yet – is to get all these disparate organisations in a room, who usually fight like ferrets in a bag, to all agree that they all disagree with [this proposal]”.

Peter Lewis, chief executive of the Institute, characterised the drinks reception atmosphere as “robust”.

“David Gauke is absolutely committed to the tax system being seen to be fair, for him that means high net worth individuals paying tax,” he said.

Ben Kernighan, deputy CEO of NCVO, added that the ministers were "left absolutely certain that this is one campaign that is not going to go away".

Civilsociety.co.uk understands that some attendees at the Giving Summit session put forward the idea of increasing the tax relief cap to 50 per cent of income – the rate at which it is set in the United States – or allowing higher-rate taxpayers to ‘roll over’ their donations into different financial years.

Steve Moore, of Big Society Network, reportedly suggested that the government draw a line under the row over the tax relief cap and instead bring together a group to discuss funding of the sector more generally.

A consultation about the cap is due to be held over the summer. Gauke assured attendees it would not drag on until Christmas, saying there would be resolution by September. At the moment, the proposal is due to be included in the Finance Bill.

Task group suggestions to take forward

Lewis said the Institute was pleased with some of the suggestions made by the task groups which fed into the Giving Summit meetings. In particular, the legacy group is keen to work with government on nudging people to make legacies at different points in their lives. He said the group also supported a proposal to create an online hub which would bring together in one place all the different platforms for giving so charities could easily compare them.

“We’ll be talking to officials over the next few weeks to see how it progresses,” Lewis said.

In a briefing before the summit yesterday, reviewing its progress but also making announcements based on the ideas put forward by the task group chairs at the Giving Summit.

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