Posts By: David Ainsworth

Paying trustees won’t lead to better results

There’s a story, much-used among producers of Freakonomics-style literature, about a nursery in Israel that got fed up with parents arriving late to collect their children, and started charging latecomers.

What happened? People got even later.

Previously, it seems, they had felt guilty about arriving late, because they felt a social obligation to the people running the nursery. Now they were able to pay a fiver or so, and arrive as late as they liked, guilt-free. Read more on Paying trustees won’t lead to better results…

The changing definition of ‘mutuals’

In the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen some movement on the government’s mutuals agenda – the idea, championed by the Cabinet Office, that public services should be spun out into employee-controlled social enterprises which, it says, will be much more efficient at delivering services than the lumbering giants in the state.

One announcement, at the end of April, was the launch of the “first central government mutual”, a project called MyCSP – short for My Civil Service Pension – which last month won 15 contracts to administer public sector pensions, in addition to its initial job running the principal civil service pension scheme. Read more on The changing definition of ‘mutuals’…

Government claims over small donations scheme seem a bit optimistic

The government announced last week that it has introduced a bill to Parliament which will bring the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme into law.

This new scheme is pretty simple, at heart, and also a pretty good idea: it will allow charities to claim something equivalent to Gift Aid on £5,000 a year in cash donations, even if they haven’t got the right forms. Read more on Government claims over small donations scheme seem a bit optimistic…

Other quangos should follow the Canal and River Trust and become charities

The Canal and River Trust doesn’t yet exist, but it’s already got a partnership with Google.

What’s more Google, who’s agreed a partnership to display the towpaths on Google Maps, is one of three major organisations who today agreed to put their support behind the new CRT, which will next month spin out of government with responsibility for managing over 2,000 miles of waterways.

It’s the sort of exposure that most charities would kill for. But then most charities don’t have the profile of the CRT: a cast iron guarantee of £800m funding from government, as well as the third largest portfolio of historic buildings in the British Isles, and a collection of natural assets guaranteed to bring in visitors by, well, the boatload. Read more on Other quangos should follow the Canal and River Trust and become charities…

Tax relief cap estimates just don’t add up

In the last week, we’ve seen some calculations from the Charities Aid Foundation and Oxford Economics estimating how much the tax relief cap will cost the charity sector.

At the moment, the Charities Aid Foundation says it will cost £500m. This has been extrapolated by Oxford Economics to a negative cost to society of £1.5bn. Read more on Tax relief cap estimates just don’t add up…

Problem about measuring charity efficiency won’t be easily solved

Several people in the charity sector have taken the opportunity afforded by the cap on charity tax reliefs recently to have a go at the sector, and whether all charities really deserve the reliefs they have.

The first complaint is about the use that charities put their money to. Should you really get tax relief for giving money to the opera, or Eton, rather than paying for essential services provided by the state? Shouldn’t we have one law for charities doing important stuff – helping the disadvantaged – and another for people doing frivolous nice-to-haves – the donkey sanctuaries and whatever? Read more on Problem about measuring charity efficiency won’t be easily solved…

Keeping social finance on the straight and narrow

Last week I interviewed Nick O’Donohoe, chief executive of Big Society Capital, about his targets for the new £600m social lender.

What was really interesting was his view of the sector – one that was predicated on the idea that social enterprises and charities should be delivering more services.

O’Donohoe’s starting point is one that the majority of workers in the sector, I think, would agree with: the charity sector is better than other sectors at supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged people. Read more on Keeping social finance on the straight and narrow…

Clarity at last on tax relief cap, but it’s not good news for charities

I think we have now nailed down the way HM Revenue & Customs thinks its new cap on tax reliefs will work. Firstly, the relief is based on the level of your gift, not the level of tax you paid on that gift. So as soon as your gift hits £50,000, or a quarter of your income, you’re capped.

Secondly, that limit is taken to include Gift Aid. So if you earn less than £200,000, and give £40,001, and the charity claims Gift Aid on that, you’ll be capped. Read more on Clarity at last on tax relief cap, but it’s not good news for charities…

Er hello? Does anyone actually understand how the tax relief cap works?

Last week, I got in touch with HM Revenue & Customs and asked them how their new tax relief cap would work.

This new idea – George Osborne’s only mention of charity in the Budget – means that you can’t claim tax relief on more than a quarter of your income, or £50,000, whichever is higher, and will obviously make it much more expensive to give very large amounts to charity. Read more on Er hello? Does anyone actually understand how the tax relief cap works?…

Scotland’s social enterprises seem to have it made

This year brought a new name for the annual Social Enterprise UK conference – the Social Enterprise Exchange – and a new venue – Glasgow.

The conference was hosted in partnership with Social Enterprise Scotland, and it appeared as if around half the delegates were from north of the border. As a result, the whole thing seemed to have a slightly different vibe from previous years, as well as different faces. Read more on Scotland’s social enterprises seem to have it made…