Freeman Blog

Time to Smell The Coffee … Not For Pats On The Back!

Posted by Mark Freeman
Mark Freeman
Mark Freeman & Associates was established by Mark Freeman to bring together a number of trusted associates who...
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on Friday, 01 June 2012 in Freeman Blog

Congratulations are in order for those involved in the campaign to get the Chancellor to do his U-turn on the charitable donations cap, but, here are a couple of things we should learn from this embarrassing, ineffective and shambolic way of doing things!!

It certainly did demonstrate that by the sector working together for a common goal it can achieve impressive results ... however, it did get me thinking. What should the charitable sector be considering in future to ensure that this type of result is achieved before the fact not after the fact?

The sector needs to come up with a strategy to ensure that is "at the table", influencing and supporting the government to find solutions, rather than be dismissed as not relevant, as would seem to have been the case with the cap!

If you look at a wide range of industries in the UK and overseas they constantly lobby governments with their point of view - so much so that governments turn to them for solutions as well as for problems. Why are they so effective? Because the lobbying is not done by one organisation having a seat at the table with the minister, but by the industry getting together and putting its voice and its case through the use of professional lobbyists.

Had the sector employed a professional lobbying strategist in this case, a different solution could perhaps have been arrived at.

One of the solutions could have been a system of pre-approvals by HMRC to allow tax deductions for donations say over a £1 million. As has been pointed out by a number of umbrella bodies this is realistically only 100 or so donations a year. The result would have been a win for the government in clamping down on charitable donation tax abuse, a win for the sector in ensuring that donations are genuine and a win-win for the sector and government working together.

Why on earth did this not happen?

Because the sector did not act as one, and is not commercially hard enough to influence government. Real lobbying, as we have seen in this campaign, is one voice from many camps not many voices with different agendas.

So, rather than congratulate one another on this campaign, why not take this as a wake up call to smell the coffee, and create a lobbying group to insist that the government listens.

This voice should have agreed positions and goals on what it wants to achieve with government. Had this been done in the past, perhaps the following issues would have been handled differently by the government of the day:

  • Advanced Corporation Tax
  • Irrecoverable VAT
  • Charitable Incorporated Organisation
  • Harmonisation of VAT and Corporate Tax
  • Gift Aid for small charities

Or ... we can indeed go on congratulating each other whilst the machine of government drives forward without us influencing its direction in relation to the NFP sector!

Anyone for coffee?

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