The media coverage of George Osborne’s second budget as Chancellor has largely, and understandably, been focused on the 1p cut in fuel duty to help motorists, the raising of the personal allowance for Income Tax, and the creation of 21 new Enterprise Zones to boost jobs. These are all measures that should be warmly welcomed, and are deserving of the publicity they have received.
There is one area of the budget, however, that has not enjoyed the coverage I believe it deserves – and it is an area that I believe will have a real and tangible benefit to communities right across the country.
The “10 for 10” policy announced in the Budget will see those people who leave 10% of their estates to good causes rewarded with a 10% reduction in the rate of Inheritance Tax they pay. This is a neat and elegant change that will reward those individuals who already plan to give generously in their wills – and will encourage many more to do the same.
Small-scale charity fundraising is an established part of British life; it is one of the most attractive aspects of our society that up and down the country we regularly and enthusiastically come together in aid of good causes.
In June, I am arranging a charity cricket match against Dartford Cricket Club – with local councillors, civic leaders and other public figures taking on the First XI. The event is part of the Great Poppy Party Weekend, which encourages street parties and community events to raise money for the Royal British Legion. I know that thousands of people in the UK, from Dartford to Doncaster, will also be taking part to raise much-needed funds for the appeal.
However, in these difficult times charities cannot rely on small-scale fundraising alone. In 2009 the Royal British Legion received £12.3million in legacies – 11.4% of its total fundraising for that year. “10 for 10” will push that figure higher, for the British Legion and for charities across the board. The aim is to make charitable giving through legacies the rule rather than the exception – a worthy ambition that shows this Government’s over-riding faith in the power of people to do good for their communities.
At a cost to the Treasury of approximately £170m a year by 2015-16, the scheme could see more than £350m being left to charities in its first four years. This will be a welcome boost at a time when many charities are struggling, and when expectations on the sector have never been higher. It is right the Government is giving something back.
“10 for 10”, taken together with the Chancellor‘s simplification of Gift Aid (allowing charities to claim the relief on up to £5,000 of small donations a year without lengthy form-filling), forms a two pronged approach to encouraging charitable giving in amounts both large and small. This Budget was a ‘good news' Budget, not only for motorists, taxpayers and small business owners – but also for a section of our society that deserves nothing less.