Good News for Treasurers

by Gerry Lynch last modified 19 Mar, 2015 12:06 PM

Budget announces tripling of church repair fund and improvements to Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme

Today's Budget contained two items which will cheer many concerned with church finance. The Church Roof Repair Fund will more than triple in size. Additionally, the maximum amount that can be claimed in the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme (GASDS) will be raised from £5,000 to £8,000.

The Church Roof Repair Fund, announced in the Autumn Statement in 2014, will receive an additional £40 million on top of the existing £15 million worth of funding. This additional funding is in response to the overwhelming demand to the first wave of funding for urgent repair of roofs and rainwater goods. 

Church Roof Repair Fund applicants (and the Third Round applicants for the First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund) were scheduled to be informed of their grants towards the end of next week. The Church Roofs Fund is managed by the National Heritage Memorial Fund, and the additional funds may cause some delay in announcements. A spokesperson for the Church of England said they will keep www.churchcare.co.uk updated with details on the additional funds as they emerge.   

The Bishop of Worcester, Rt Revd Dr John Inge, lead bishop for cathedrals and church buildings said, "We are enormously grateful to the Chancellor for the generous promise of more funding following the heavily oversubscribed Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Fund and First World War Centenary Cathedral Repair Fund.

"The nation's churches and cathedrals are irreplaceable historic buildings which are important both to worshippers and the wider communities. This new funding will mean that many more parishes will be able to complete essential repairs to their churches to continue to serve their communities well into the future.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd Justin Welby responded to the announcement on Twitter, saying, “Trebling of money for church repairs will create local skilled jobs, improve community facilities and protect heritage, most welcome”.

On Gift Aid, GASDS allows charities, including churches, to claim 25% Gift Aid on donations of £20 or less even if they aren't accompanied by a Gift Aid Declaration.

Chairman of the Charities Tax Group, John Hemming, commented, “The increase in from £5,000 to £8,000 in the amount that can be donated under the GASDS scheme is very welcome and we believe that this will increase awareness of the scheme, particularly among larger charities.  The promised review of the scheme in 2016 needs to look at how the scheme works, particularly for small charities, for whom the eligibility requirements are too strict, but this increase demonstrates the Government’s commitment to making it as effective as possible – we hope this positive approach will be carried forward in next year’s review.”

The increase will allow charities to claim Gift Aid style top-up payments of up to £2,000 a year, instead of a current limit of £1,250. This will take effect from April 2016 Raising awareness of the scheme is one of the drivers behind the increase in the amount that can be claimed.  As of December 2014, only £23m had been claimed, which was below the Government’s original projection of £50m. 

More details of the scheme and how to claim under it are available at https://www.gov.uk/claim-gift-aid/small-donations-scheme

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