Budget 98 – Charities split over tax relief

Charities were split on the merits of the new Millennium Gift Aid scheme which offers tax relief incentives on charitable donations, launched in last week’s Budget.

Chancellor Gordon Brown pledged to assist charities by giving up to #40 for every #100 given by individuals. Charities argued Gift Aid relief will only benefit a minority of charities and not the majority.

‘I am dubious because it seems to be targeted at projects for education and anti-poverty, not at all charities. Because it is a short-term measure it will end on 31 December 2000,’ said Barry Abrahams, head of the Charity Group at Levy Gee.

Vicky Pulman, spokeswoman for the Charities Aid Foundation, said: ‘Charities will certainly welcome the announcement, especially if it stimulates people to donate money. In the long term, I hope this measure is extended to all charities, as the chancellor is focusing on international charities and poverty relief.’

Pulman added she hoped the money would not be put into a central fund, but that charities would have full control over how it is spent.

Actionaid, one of the charities set to benefit from the cash boost, welcomed the chancellor’s announcement. ‘It shows the government is committed to wiping out extreme poverty in the long term,’ said spokeswoman Jenny Driscoll.

But Emma Bolton, spokeswoman for the Samaritans was less enthusiastic.

‘We are happy for the charities that stand to benefit, but we hope it indicates a move towards tax relief for all charities.’

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