The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 25th May:
Whether it’s for ourselves or for friends, for a longstanding cause or to support victims after a tragedy, I’m certain nearly all of us are familiar with charity fundraising.
Every year people across the country donate millions to good causes that they want to support, and rightfully expect all of that money to reach the charity.
On top of their donation, taxpayers can claim ‘gift aid’, which allows charities to claim an extra 25p in tax relief for every £1 donated.
That extra money makes a vital difference to so many charities and community groups across the country and here in Barnsley.
Yet some popular fundraising platforms like JustGiving are currently exploiting a loophole that lets them take a cut from your gift aid -; sometimes up to 5 per cent -; before they pass the rest on to the charity you thought you were donating to.
This means taxpayers’ money donated to deserving causes in our community isn’t reaching these charities and groups, but lines the pockets of profit-making private companies instead.
One estimate suggests that between 2011 and 2021, up to £31m of taxpayers’ gift aid could be taken in fees by these fundraising companies.
It is completely unacceptable that those in need are losing out on money that donors thought was going to their charity of choice, simply because of private greed.
I recently brought this issue up in Parliament, asking the Government what plans they had to cap extortionate fees on gift aid and increase transparency, so people know exactly what happens to the money they donate.
Ministers’ response – that they simply have no plans to limit fees – just isn’t good enough.
Taxpayers donating their hard-earned money should be reassured that it’s all going directly to the causes they want to help, not being creamed off by private companies without their knowledge.
But the Government is happy to take these companies’ word that they will get their own house in order. We’ve heard it all before.
It’s time the Government stepped in and tackled these fees directly.
The great gift aid robbery must be stopped.