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By Jude Doherty, Researcher, Directory of Social Change
In our March Quick Survey we asked:
The Chancellor made his annual Budget statement on 21 March. In terms of what it offered the voluntary sector, was the Budget better, worse or neither better nor worse than you expected?
|7% ||better than expected|
|69%||worse than expected|
There were 165 responses and 56 written comments. A selection of some of the comments is provided below, following the main themes of opinion which appear in bold.
Many were unhappy with the changes in the tax system, particularly the ‘tax on philanthropy’ which will limit the tax relief that donors can claim when making large donations to charity:
"The changes in incentives to charitable giving are a disaster, in that the ceiling on the gift aid tax reclamation for large donors will not impact on the donors, but will massively impact on the charitable recipients. At this point I am left open-mouthed whilst trying to calculate whether the current government and Chancellor are ludicrously stupid or have a hidden agenda to damage the charitable sector!"
"The cap on tax reliefs for charitable gifts is in flat contradiction to the White Paper on Giving last year. The cap will potentially decimate many charities. A real kick in the teeth for generous philanthropists."
"Hindering giving and viewing it as tax avoidance is extremely unhelpful."
And it wasn’t just the changes to income tax which worried many respondents:
"The changes [to] VAT on energy efficiency measures and listed building repairs are a source of concern."
"The decision to apply VAT at 20% to listed building alterations ... will cost our Church Council £40,000 more after October 1st. We depend on voluntary giving completely and are trying to change the use of the building to make us financially and environmentally more sustainable. This change gives us a fundraising mountain to climb."
A large number of survey respondents were of the opinion that there was not much in the budget for the sector for which they could be thankful:
“Did nothing to help the voluntary sector at all.”
“Experience shows us that this government has no understanding or real knowledge of the voluntary sector, and this budget just confirms this, with the sector barely getting a mention.”
“I see no evidence of substantive government support for strengthening voluntary action, it's largely just words and ad hoc, short term or politically expedient gestures. Really very disappointing indeed.”
“We're worse off in this budget in the Tory baring of teeth [and] the brazenness of grabbing pensions to pay for wealthy 50p rate earners.”
There was of course much reflection from respondents thinking about how the budget would affect their beneficiaries, with some mixed responses:
"For one charity helping with fuel poverty, "this was a good budget for those that need our help most, with the increase in the level before they pay income tax.”
“Despite a massive growth in requests for debt advice from deprived communities and a continuing purge on anyone claiming benefits it’s all about how can we save money at any cost.”
“Other than raising the tax threshold there is little for the lowest earners and those on benefits. Indeed pensioners' tax bills are likely to increase... As a Citizens Advice Bureau we expect demand for advice to continue increasing at a rapid rate, compounded not only by the changes in the benefits system and the various caps and cuts imposed but also on the proposed elimination of most of the civil legal aid budget.”
"A real rise in tax free income and a decent rise in OAP"
Finally, some respondents expressed more positive or neutral opinions, even highlighting the fighting spirit of humanity to shine through, good Budget or bad:
“Didn't expect any favours [from the Budget], it's grey as expected... However, humans are pretty resilient and, in the face of adversity, those on the ground who have a personal vision and are committed will do their utmost with little to continue to be and do what’s essential.”
"I'm not sure I can see what all the fuss is about. I think losers were hit fairly modestly in the circumstances."
"The country's finances appear in such a mess that we all need to tighten our belts as individuals and the Government must obviously do the same."