The government has unveiled new Big Society plans to make it easier and more attractive to give time and money to good causes.
Britons are already generous but evidence suggests levels of giving time and money have flat-lined in recent years. The Giving White Paper seeks to renew Britain’s culture of philanthropy by working with charities and businesses to support new ways for people to contribute which fit into busy modern lives.
This is exemplified by today’s announcement that, following a suggestion in the Government’s Giving Green Paper, its member banks have unanimously agreed to enable giving through all their cash machines in 2012. With 10 million transactions every day, this will be a major step to putting charity back into peoples’ everyday lives.
New commitments in the White Paper include:
- Over £40 million of funding over the next two years to support volunteering, giving and volunteering infrastructure by way of the Social Action Fund, Challenge Prizes and Local Infrastructure Fund
- £1 million to support Youthnet which runs the volunteering website www.do-it.org.uk and which will share its data more freely with organisations. Facebook have said that they will make this data accessible through them
- £700,000 to support Philanthropy UK connecting wealthy people with charities that need their support
- £400,000 support from government and NESTA to trial ‘Spice’ in England which gives volunteers ‘thank yous’ like vouchers or discounts with local businesses when they do good things for the community
- Establishing a new honours committee to ensure people are recognised and celebrated for exceptional and sustained philanthropy
- Trial charity promotions on the public service website Directgov that gets around 4.5 million visits per week
- Open up government buildings to charities and voluntary groups
- Hold a Giving Summit in the Autumn to bring together charities, philanthropists, businesses, technologists and financiers to set the course for the future of giving
- All Ministers have agreed to a one day volunteering challenge
Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said:
The building of a bigger stronger society will not be done by government but by citizens. However, it will not emerge overnight and government has to play a role in supporting it. That is why, after levels of giving have flat lined for years, this government is taking action, introducing policies to make giving give back, cut red tape and spark innovation. These changes form part of our desire to build a big society, where power is decentralised, public services are opened up and social action is encouraged.
Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society, said:
We want to help Britain become an even more generous country. It needs a new approach which is all about making it easier to get involved and make a difference.
Justine Greening, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, said:
The philanthropy package at this year’s Budget represented the most radical and generous reforms to charitable giving for more than twenty years. The plans we are setting out today in the Giving White Paper further demonstrate our commitment to encouraging people to donate. We want to make it easier for everyone to give to charity and I am particularly keen to create a US-style culture of philanthropy where people who can afford to will routinely donate substantial amounts to charities across the country.
The Giving White Paper builds on other work to support philanthropy including changes to the tax system announced in the budget 2011. It’s estimated that these new measures will be worth £600million to charities over the lifetime of this parliament, they include:
- Removal of gift aid paperwork for donations up to £5, 000 (by April 2013)
- Move to a new online filing system for gift aid claims (by 2013)
- Reduction in rate of inheritance tax for estates that leave 10% or more to charity
Much has been achieved in the last year across the three strands of Big Society - Public Service Reform, Social Action and Community Empowerment. Progress includes: rights for front line public sector staff to form mutual organisations and take over the services they run; a commitment by the Civil Service to give 30,000 volunteer days a year; and progression of the Localism Bill through parliament.
And much more is promised for the coming year. This summer, the Big Society Bank will make its first investments; 11,000 16 year olds will be the first to take part in the National Citizen Service and the first of 5000 Community Organisers will receive training and support to help engage people with their communities.