Budget 2018: Key points for foundations and civil society
Ahead of this year’s budget, the government’s freshly published vision for civil society and recently announced ‘end of austerity’ were cause for optimism for the charitable sector, tempered by uncertainty about the final Brexit negotiations and a looming Spending Review. So what did the Autumn Budget 2018 deliver for foundations and charities?
Many charities will be affected by technical changes designed to reduce the administrative burden. They include increasing the limit that charities can trade before incurring tax liabilities, amending the Retail Gift Aid Scheme, and increasing the donation limit under the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme. Efforts to reduce the administrative burden are also welcome, and several charities will see this as a result of successful campaigning. But the cumulative burden on charities means these small changes are unlikely to provide much relief in the grand scheme of things.
There was some welcome additional funding announced for certain charitable causes; £15m for charities preventing food waste, £10m to support veterans with mental health needs, £10m in capital funding for air ambulance trusts, £8m to help repair village halls, and £1.7m towards Holocaust education and commemoration. However while these causes may benefit in the short term, the need for long-term strategic investment which ACF and others called for ahead of the Budget was not realised.
The Chancellor gave further details on how the £20bn already promised for the NHS would be spent. There will also be additional funding for mental health services, social care, and schools. More funding for the Universal Credit system, the increase in the income tax threshold and a higher National Minimum Wage may provide some relief to various beneficiary groups, though commentators have observed that this might be offset by increases in other contributions. All in all, many charities feel that austerity, or at least its impact, is not yet at an end.
A few key issues were notable by their absence. The potential for a no-deal Brexit was one, and if a deal is not reached there will be a ‘full fiscal event’ in the spring. There was no mention of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund; a consultation is expected in November and it may feature in next year’s Spending Review. And despite much coverage of the issue in the run up to the Budget, there was no mention of charitable giving platforms; it is suspected that addressing their charging model turned out to be more complicated than Treasury first thought.
Policy and Communications Manager, ACF