Charity tax relief stats shed light on UK population's charitable giving

04 July 2017

The latest charitable tax relief statistics have been released by HMRC and a few interesting facts peep out of the bewildering mass of figures:

  • surprisingly, domestic rate relief was the largest contributor (£1,870m);
  • there is a 5 per cent increase in Inheritance Tax (IHT) relief claimed for 2016/17;
  • estimated relief for individual donations has increased by approximately £60m;
  • the number of individuals claiming gift aid via self-assessment seems to have fallen slightly;
  • for gift aid, the employed and pensioners are the most generous, and donors were heavily concentrated in older age groups;
  • men appear to give more than women, but to be fair there are more of them in self-assessment in the first place; and
  • average donations were £2,390, but the median was only £340, indicating that some very large donations are skewing the figures.

Several questions and concerns arise from the data.

Young people seem to donate markedly less frequently than their elders. Let us hope that this is because they have less disposable funds, due to child rearing etc., and not less charitable feeling, or the country could be a grim place in 20-30 years’ time.

It will be interesting to see what effect the current political uncertainty and approaching Brexit have on donations for 2017/18. One suspects people will be less likely to donate if unsure about their own future.

Having said this, recent austerity conditions do not appear to have curtailed charitable donations; indeed it is possible they have inspired the rich to be more generous.

If the fashion for philanthropy on a grand scale is crossing the Atlantic from the US, is this necessarily a good thing? If facilities normally funded by the state, such as hospitals, can be supported via charity, will governments use this excuse to cut back, leaving the NHS lacking funding for dull but necessary basics and vulnerable to individuals’ whims?

If you would like any more information on this issue please get in touch with Sarah Saunders or your usual RSM contact.

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