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Gift Aid

Volume 527: debated on Thursday 12 May 2011

Church of England parishes recovered £82 million in gift aid from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs in 2009, which is the last year for which we have data. Over the past 10 years, we believe that the Church has recovered a total of nearly £713 million from parish donations; this excluded donations made at cathedrals.

I welcome the recent measure in the Budget to allow donations up to £5,000 for which declarations have not been made to have tax recovered on them. What measures are the Church Commissioners taking to ensure that parishes take up this welcome opportunity?

That provision in the Budget was very welcome, as was the provision for the small donations gift aid scheme, because each year, in addition to using planned giving envelopes, people put into the collection plate some £58 million of loose change, and the scheme will be of considerable assistance in recovering tax on that money as well. My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The Church has to make the best possible use of funds that are given to it in meeting social need and ensuring that churches can be places of community resource. That also means their being places not just of worship but for the widest possible community use, whether it be for cafés, concerts, crèches or other uses for the community as a whole.