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Clause 1 — Top-up payments in respect of small donations made to eligible charities

Small Charitable Donations Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:42 pm on 26th November 2012.

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Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Shadow Minister (Treasury) 7:42 pm, 26th November 2012

I beg to move amendment 4, page 1, line 17, leave out ‘maximum donations limit’
and insert ‘the specified amount.’.

This amendment is consequential on amendment 3.

Photo of Lindsay Hoyle Lindsay Hoyle Chair, Panel of Chairs, Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means, Chairman of Ways and Means

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 3, page 1, line 19, leave out subsections (4) and (5).

This amendment removes the matching principle from the bill.

Government amendment 23.

Amendment 1, page 2, line 1, leave out ‘double’ and insert ‘triple’.

To increase the maximum claim to triple the amount of gift aid claimed each year. Cathy Jamieson

Amendment 5, in clause 4, page 3, line 13, leave out ‘for the purposes of section 1(4)’.

This amendment is consequential on amendment 3.

Amendment 6, in clause 6, page 4, line 27, leave out ‘for the purposes of section 1(4)’.

This amendment is consequential on amendment 3.

Amendment 17, page 4, line 38, leave out paragraph (a) and insert—

‘(a) the sum of the small donations that are made to the charity in the community building in the tax year, or’.

This amendment seeks to remove the requirement that donations under the community buildings amount can only be made by group members while the charity is running its charitable activities.

Amendment 18, page 5, line 3, leave out ‘by group members while it is running charitable activities in the buildings’.

This is consequential on amendment 17.

Amendment 19, page 5, line 5, leave out subsection (6).

This is consequential on amendment 17.

Amendment 20, in clause 7, page 5, leave out lines 20 and 21.

This is consequential on amendment 17.

Amendment 7, in clause 9, page 6, line 29, leave out ‘for the purposes of section 1(4)’.

This amendment is consequential on amendment 3.

Government amendment 30.

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Shadow Minister (Treasury)

Again, I hope not to detain the House to any great extent. As the Minister will recall, we consistently pushed the Government to reconsider the matching principle in the Bill as we believed that it was too onerous for many small charities and would mean that many of them could not benefit from a scheme that was supposedly set up to help them.

The Government amendments show that the Minister has bowed to the pressure not just from members of the Committee but from people in the charitable sector who had serious concerns about the impact of the measures from the very start. I will not repeat all the comments made by the different organisations over the course of our discussions about the Bill.

We could of course continue to argue for the matching principle to be dropped completely and could make a case for that. However, given that the Government have seen fit to introduce changes that will take the ratio from 2:1 to 10:1, I think we should recognise that they have moved a significant amount, which has been welcomed by the sector. I look forward to hearing what the Minister has to say about his amendments and I want to make it clear that I do not think our amendments are required at this point as they have been superseded by his.

Photo of Nigel Mills Nigel Mills Conservative, Amber Valley

I wholeheartedly agree with the hon. Lady. In Committee, the Minister promised to make the situation more generous, but last week I saw that no amendments had been tabled to that effect. I thought that I would just try to help him be a little more generous by reflecting the wishes of a local church in my constituency that had asked me to try to make the figure three times, not twice. I have no desire to be only a third as generous as the Treasury and so welcome this move by the Minister. I think that it is a sign that he has listened to the argument. I genuinely hope that this new-found generosity in the Treasury will extend into next week.

Photo of Sajid Javid Sajid Javid The Economic Secretary to the Treasury 8:00 pm, 26th November 2012

We have had a constructive and lively debate so far. I welcome the comments of Cathy Jamieson and, in particular, her decision not to press her amendments. I also welcome the comments of my hon. Friend Nigel Mills and his decision not to press his amendment. He has recognised that Government amendment 23 will reduce the matching rate by 10%, which is even more generous than the reduction proposed in his amendment. I cannot promise him that this generosity will continue into next week—we will have to wait and see what happens then—but he does tempt me.

I will say a few words about why the Government have brought forward these amendments. Although some hon. Members wanted to remove the matching rate altogether in Committee, I understand that they accept that the Government have listened and that a 10% rate is much more generous than what was offered when the Bill was first introduced.

Let me say explain why we have this matching provision. HMRC sees even the 10% rate as an act against gift aid fraud. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous individuals who want to misuse charitable tax reliefs. They defraud the taxpayer and undermine the good name of the charitable sector, so we must be in a position to protect the taxpayer and the charitable sector. The lack of records also means that HMRC would have less evidence when a charity is claiming correctly under the scheme if there was no kind of matching principle. Gift aid is the closest proxy we can use to help ensure compliance under the new scheme, and the matching requirements will significantly increase protection against fraud and abuse.

Government amendment 30 introduces a wide-ranging power that will allow us to reduce or increase the matching rate. It will allow us to remove the matching provision entirely or reinstate it at a later date if it is removed. Removing the matching provisions altogether would remove the need for charities to claim a set proportion of their small donations claim in gift aid in that year. Even so, charities would always need to claim some gift aid in each year to ensure that they can claim under the scheme. That is because of the provision in clause 1(1)(b). That helps to retain the important link between this scheme and gift aid.

Any use of that power would be through the draft affirmative procedure, so it would be consulted on and subject to a debate in this House. That power means that the matching rule is fully flexible. We have no intention of using the power in the near future, but it will be there if we need it. It is something that many charities have asked us to introduce, so I am pleased that we have been able to do so. I believe that the

Government’s approach is better than some of the other amendments that have been tabled, as has been recognised in the comments we have heard.

We debated the community buildings rules in some detail in Committee so, unless hon. Members have questions, I do not propose to go into much detail now, but I would like to remind Members that the purpose of those rules is to recognise that not all charities are structured in the same way. There are charities that, because of the way they were set up or for other reasons, effectively operate as branches of a master charity. We want to ensure that the proposals are as fair as possible and that branches of a bigger charity are effectively treated as individual charities and have their own £5,000 limit. The purpose of the community buildings rules was not to give more than £5,000 by allowing charities to have multiple claims, and I believe that the changes we are making to the Bill will achieve that effectively.

I again warmly welcome the support the House has shown for the Government amendments and thank the hon. Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun for looking at them carefully and not pressing her amendments. I commend amendments 23 and 30 to the House.

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Shadow Minister (Treasury)

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 4, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment made: 23, page 2, line 1, leave out ‘double’ and insert ‘10 times’.

This amendment changes the gift aid “matching” rate from 2:1 to 10:1. In other words, to make a claim in respect of £5,000 of small donations, a charity would need to make successful gift aid claims in respect of £500 of donations, rather than £2,500.

(Sajid Javid.)