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The Bill is intended to complement gift aid, because the Government received many representations from charities that when they received cash donations, such as in bucket collections, they were unable to take the information necessary for gift aid, such as whether the individual was a taxpayer and their name, address and other information. The scheme is intended to address that. One-off charities, including those set up in response to a disaster, are worthy causes but do not fit into how we intend the scheme to complement gift aid.
To answer the last part of the hon. Lady’s question, if a charity is created in response to a particular event or disaster, there is nothing to prevent it from registering for gift aid immediately and taking advantage of the gift aid provisions that already exist. If it stayed in existence for a number of years and therefore met the new eligibility criteria, it could also take advantage of what is available under the Bill. For the reasons that I have given, although she introduced her amendments with the best of intentions, I ask her kindly to consider not pressing them.
Amendments 8 to 16 would abolish the three-year start-up period and allow charities that have made a gift aid claim in the previous year to claim under the scheme. The maximum donations that could be claimed on would be £2,000, instead of £5,000. Proposals for a reduced rate for new charities have been put forward several times, and I am afraid that I cannot support them. Reducing the eligibility period to a year or less would increase costs, which would include a lot of costs caused by fraud. Requiring just one gift aid claim would leave the scheme open to unacceptable abuse.
The amendments would also make the scheme very complicated for some charities. Charities would need to know which other charities connected with them had claimed, and at which rate, because the rules would be different depending on those factors. The Government have listened to all the concerns that have been expressed about the eligibility rules, and we have put forward our own proposals. Our amendments are safe and affordable, and they will minimise complexity. I therefore ask Opposition Members not to press amendments 8 to 16.
I turn to the amendments that I have tabled on eligibility. Amendments 24 to 27 will reduce the eligibility period for the scheme to two years, and amendment 31 will introduce a power to enable us to amend the criteria in future if necessary. The eligibility criteria have been a key issue raised by the charity sector throughout the development of the scheme, and by Members in our earlier debates. The sector has welcomed the amendments since I tabled them last week, and I hope that hon. Members will support them, too.