Unlocking assets could free £1bn to support coronavirus fight, says report

Hundreds of millions of pounds could be unleashed to support charities hit by the COVID-19 crisis, according to new analysis by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF).

A report published today recommends a raft of measures to unlock charitable assets, harness unclaimed Gift Aid and stimulate new giving to vital causes hit by the deadly outbreak.

The report by CAF, which grants more than £650m to charities each year, contains recommendations for government, regulators and charities themselves to unlock vital cash needed to support charities during the current crisis and rebuild support once the virus abates.

Proposals include

  • Temporarily remove the need for people to make a Gift Aid declaration in order for the charities to receive the 25% additional benefit on every donation. It is estimated that £600m in Gift Aid is currently unclaimed each year
  • Introduce “living legacies” which allow people to bring forward the kinds of gifts they might make in their will – this could give valuable additional support to charities right now by allowing them to plan ahead and potentially borrow money against future assets
  • Unlock the assets of the £500m National Fund – a charity set up in the 1920s to repay the national debt whose assets have been locked away for nearly 100 years
  • Ease efforts to release millions in unused cash from dormant charities
  • Create a coronavirus big philanthropy pledge to encourage donations from wealthy individuals and businesses

CAF’s proposals could significantly supplement the £750m Government aid package for charities announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in support of the front line response to coronavirus amid increasing demand for charities and falling income.

Rhodri Davies, Head of Policy at the Charities Aid Foundation, said:

“In these times of crisis we need to employ radical ideas to bolster the charities which are an integral part of life in the UK. These proposals include elements which, in normal times, would not be considered but these extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures to help protect the invaluable work of charities.

“The Chancellor recently brought forward welcome and important support for charities but was clear that he couldn’t intervene to help them all. We hope these bold ideas will be taken up by Ministers, regulators and our colleagues in the charity world to unleash support that we need now to keep charities alive for the future.

“The contribution of charities has never been more evident and every course of action we can take to ensure they will be there to continue helping society’s most vulnerable needs to be considered at pace.”

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