Government's White Paper On Giving - A Summary

Author:and Ben Brice
Profession:Bircham Dyson Bell LLP

Ben Brice provides an overview of the White Paper, introduced in May 2011, and considers whether it has gone far enough in terms of incentivising giving.

The Government's White Paper on Giving comprises a key part of its 'Big Society' programme. The broader Big Society policy aims to return to the people control of their community and individual social requirements and to reduce their reliance on the state. The Government aims to facilitate this by empowering local communities, opening up public services to competition and encouraging social action and greater giving. Government policy on social action is set forth in the White Paper. Its aim is to 'catalyse a culture shift that makes social action a social norm', it is not intended to be definitive and 'marks the beginning of a process of engagement on giving, not the end of one'.

The good

The White Paper recognises that opportunities to give may be eased by the removal of the bureaucratic red tape which so often restricts it. This is particularly the case in relation to the development of volunteering networks and fundraising activities. The Minister of Civil Society has considered this aspect to be sufficiently important to establish a separate Civil Society Red Tape Task Force under the leadership of Lord Hodgson, whose report was published in May 2011. Various recommendations are made, including law reform, the elimination of regulatory duplication, and the provision of clear, standard guidance. The Cabinet Office will be working with the Better Regulation Executive to address the recommendations and a further update is expected in May 2012.

The White Paper also suggests that greater giving might be encouraged by increased reward and recognition for established givers of time and money. This is achievable both through the honours system and by affording greater publicity to alternative awards. Higher level celebration of those who give will incentivise others to follow in their footsteps and pursue their own rewards. Awareness can also be enhanced by publicising and promoting giving related activities at national and local level.

The encouragement of innovation through the development of new methods of fundraising by social media and other new technologies is to be welcomed. The same is true of the further promotion of payroll giving with a view to its becoming the norm. Matched funding initiatives and increased transparency from the charity sector, so that donors can more easily see...

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