Funding round-up: September 2019

Spending round 2019

Earlier this month the chancellor delivered a fast-tracked one-year ‘spending round’. In what was widely seen as a politically driven statement aimed at appealing to voters ahead of an imminent general election, the chancellor announced some relatively generous giveaways of interest to charities:

  • £3.5bn for councils over the next year — the first real-terms rise for a decade — with £1bn set aside for social care (something NCVO and other sector bodies called for in our letter to the chancellor)
  • NHS spending will be increased by £6.2bn next year, including £210m for frontline NHS staff and around £2bn of new capital funding for hospitals this year
  • £422m to create ‘world leading environmental standards’ once Britain has left the EU, alongside £30m earmarked for tackling air quality and £30m for biodiversity
  • £750m to recruit 20,000 new police officers
  • An additional £2.4m funding for the Charity Commission over the next year (see my blog post for our thoughts on how this should – or shouldn’t – be used)

This announcement only spans one year. The big spending and fiscal decisions will have to wait until the nature of our relationship with the EU becomes clearer (not least whether Britain exits the EU without a deal). The budget in November and the postponed full three-year spending review, probably around this time next year, will be more important than ever. Follow me on Twitter for updates.

Government response the Charity Tax Commission proposals

In response to the Charity Tax Commission’s report, the Exchequer Secretary Simon Clarke MP issued a written response stating that the government has no plans to undertake a formal comprehensive review of charity taxation and reliefs, or assessed the impact of introducing a universal Gift Aid declaration database. In another written response, Mr Clarke said that while the UK remained an EU member, it would not be possible to zero rate or exempt the costs for writing wills that include a charitable donation from VAT, although he hinted there might be more flexibility in the future).

While a somewhat underwhelming response, it does show the Commission’s recommendations are on the radar of policymakers and supported by certain MPs. NCVO will be working with other sector bodies in the coming months to take forward some of the Commission’s recommendations.

Parliamentary debate on the UK shared prosperity fund

Last week there was a parliamentary debate on the long-awaited UK shared prosperity fund (UKSPF) which will replace EU funding post-Brexit.

A recurring complaint from many MPs was the woeful lack of information from government on the size of the UKSPF; how it will be administered and money allocated; timescales for design and implementation; and details of the important consultation, repeatedly delayed since 2017.

Responding, the government said the size of UKSPF will not be made clear until the comprehensive spending review (next year) but that UK-wide devolution settlements will be respected.

As part of a coalition of 100 chief executives from across the employment and skills sector, we wrote to the prime minister highlighting the urgency of more information on the UKSPF for communites across the country. We are yet to receive a response.

No-deal Brexit funding for charities

Government departments have been asked to submit bids to the Treasury for extra funding for a no-deal departure from the EU. We have written to the new minister for civil society urging her to ensure that charities are not overlooked.

This means not only that funds available for no-deal planning should be explicitly open to charities, but also that government should set up a ‘resilient communities fund’ to particularly support community charities and help them mitigate the effects of a no-deal Brexit.

Read the full letter to Baroness Barran.

Facebook donations

Charity Tax Group has provided an update on whether charities can claim gift Aid on donations received via Facebook. As it currently stands, CTG does not feel HMRC guidance is clear enough and have asked for more information and clarification of how charities can satisfy an HMRC Gift Aid audit inspection.

Gift Aid donor benefits guidance

Charity Tax Group has reported that changes have been made to HMRC charities guidance on how donor benefits should be treated and how they are valued for Gift Aid limits. Changes include:

  • representing the relevant value test as two not three thresholds
  • a more flexible approach to valuing benefits where there is no commercial value (ie a non-ticketed event).

Revised guidance on preparing an annual return

The Charity Commission has revised its guidance on preparing an annual return by adding guidance on using the ‘update charity details’ service for the first time. The page has also been rewritten to make it shorter and easier to use. The commission has issued separate specific guidance for charities preparing an annual return for the first time since 12 November 2018.

Changes to way the charities SORP is developed

The Charities SORP-making body has announced plans to change the way the charity accounting framework – the statement of recommended practice (SORP) – is developed so that it better meets the needs of users of charity reports and accounts. Changes include:

  • reforms to the SORP committee to ensure a stronger culture of constructive challenge, better stability, and better representation of small charities and funders
  • the introduction of a new engagement process, with seven stakeholder groups – with individuals and organisations with an interest in financial reporting and the work of the charities – to be set up to work in partnership with the SORP committee.

 

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Paul Winyard Paul joined NCVO over seven years ago after working for a leading public affairs agency. Since then he’s led our policy work on a variety of issues, including welfare-to-work reforms, volunteering, the Compact, public service commissioning and procurement regulations. He now leads our work on funding and finance with a particular focus on charity tax relief and safeguarding EU funding post-Brexit.

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