Treasury minister threatens Budget crackdown on digital giving platforms

06 Jul 2018 News

Treasury Minister Robert Jenrick has told The Sun he has asked HM Revenue and Customs to explore ways of stopping digital giving platforms from taking commission from Gift Aid ahead of the Autumn Budget. 

Jenrick, the Conservative Party MP for Newark, told The Sun he wanted to stop digital giving platforms taking commission from Gift Aid because “this is not the intention” of the scheme. He said that either digital giving platforms could cease the practice themselves, or he would “take action” at the next budget. 

“Some of the largest fundraising platforms have been keeping all or part of the Gift Aid amount on their fee,” said Jenrick. 

“This is not the intention of Gift Aid, which is to provide more money for good causes and to support charities.

“I want this practice to stop and if it doesn’t, we will take action at the next opportunity. I have instructed HMRC to prepare steps to bring this to an end if required.”

The Sun and JustGiving

The Sun said that Jenrick’s HMRC “ultimatum” was made “to four of the biggest rip-off” platforms, but only mentions JustGiving in the article. 

The Sun has been highly critical of JustGiving and its business model in the past: most notably last year when it accused the platform of “pocketing £200,000” from donations made on its platform for survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire. 

The paper also attacked the platform last year for charging fees on pages set up in the memory of PC Keith Palmer, the constable killed in the Westminster terrorist attack, and on pages set up after the Manchester bombing. 

JustGiving currently charges a 5 per cent fee from each donation made through the site. It says that, by using Gift Aid, it “boosts” a person’s donation by 25 per cent “and then deduct our 5 per cent fee and automatically send the rest over to the charity”.

Charities are also charged a monthly subscription fee of either £15 or £39 a month, plus VAT. 

The platform has always maintained that its fee structures mean that “charities can spend more time and energy on what they do best – changing more lives”. 

A spokesman for JustGiving said the organisation didn't have a comment at this time. 

Daniel Fluskey, head of policy and external affairs at the Institute of Fundraising, said: “Donation platforms have developed different models of charging and receiving commission, and there have been recent regulatory changes from the Fundraising Regulator on transparency of fees for donors.

"We of course want to see as much money going to good causes as possible, but we need to ensure that potential changes – including banning a charge on Gift Aid - don’t negatively impact the whole system of giving through platforms.”

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