Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

By Alexandra Khan | 21 December 2012 | Comments (1)

Stewardship - copyright 2012

 

2012 has been a great year of advancement and change for Stewardship. As December draws to an end, I wanted to take a moment to look at the highlights of 2012 and to thank you for journeying with us this year.

The highlights:

  • 40acts (our award-winning Lent challenge) gathered a 5000-strong community of generous folk all over the world, resulting in an estimated 200,000 acts of kindness carried out during Lent.
  • Stewardship launched give.net earlier in the summer, and so far £123,665.00 has been donated to causes across the world.
  • We had the privilege to meet many of you at a range of summer events in the UK and at Christian Worker Training Days in the Stewardship offices.
  • The Christmas Tree, our award-winning advent treasure hunt, was refreshed for its second year of festive and poignant generosity...
  • ...and as an added bonus, the world didn't end today after all!

In 2013, we’ll be shouting about give.net from the rooftops and looking forward to the third year of 40acts, which looks set to be absolutely brilliant (even if I do say so myself). We’ll also be welcoming Charlie Osewalt to the Stewardship team. Charlie’s job will involve developing and producing resources on generosity, money and stewardship – so watch this space!

As ever, thank you for partnering with us to give and receive. From all of us here at Stewardship, we hope you have a blessed and joyful Christmas, and we look forward to serving you in 2013.

Gift Aid claims to move to online processing

By Kevin Russell | 11 December 2012

HMRC

In a move described by some as the biggest change to Gift Aid since it was introduced, HMRC have announced that they will move the Gift Aid claim process to an online system with effect from April 2013. The existing claim Form R68i will be withdrawn. 

Besides Gift Aid proper, the new system will also be the means by which charities will claim top up payments under the new Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme. The key issue that charities need to be aware of is that the new claims system will require more information than previously. So, for example, it will be necessary to provide the name and full address of each donor in every Gift Aid claim. 

Charities Online will facilitate Gift Aid reclaims as well as claims for other charity tax reliefs. The system will offer claimants three options:

 

  1. An online claim form, accessed through the HMRC website. This will provide:

 

  • A maximum of 1,000 lines of donations, per form.
  • Unlimited number of claims, even if made on the same day.
  • Cut and paste from popular spreadsheet software available
  • A downloadable spreadsheet template available.

 

It will be important that the form is completed accurately. If just one entry leads to a failure to pass the HMRC automated validation criteria, the whole claim will be rejected.

 

2.       An online, externally developed, software interface

This will be required if a charity wishes to claim a Gift Aid repayment for more than 1,000 donors. It is expected that providers of charity accounting, database and CRM solutions will want to develop a module to facilitate these larger claims. At present, it is not known who will or will not provide this service and at what cost.

 

An alternative is for a charity to develop its own interface software to sit alongside existing systems. A ‘Tech Pack’ is available from www.hmrc.gov.uk/softwaredevelopers/gift-aid-repayments.htm. For details of the HMRC Software Developer Support Team who can answer questions and provide support, see www.hmrc.gov.uk/softwaredevelopers/index.htm

 

In both cases, there is a limit of 500,000 Gift Aid donations in any one day.

 

3.       A Paper Claim Form

For charities that cannot access the internet, there will be a new paper based form (a ‘ChR1’) that will replace the existing Form R68i.

 

We are expecting this form to be time consuming to complete. It will be designed to facilitate scanning by HMRC and will therefore require users to enter each character in a separate box on the form. It will also be limited to just 90 Gift Aid donations. Separate sections of the form will enable claims for other tax reliefs, including under the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme.

 

You will not be able to claim on the R68i form, nor use photocopies of the new form. The ChR1 will be available direct from HRMC from April 2013.

 

Actions that you need to take

Make sure that your charity’s Gift Aid claims are made right up to date as of March 2013. That way, you will be able to capture the enhanced data requirements at the point of donation, for all new donors. However, you will still need to make sure that you have this information in your claims system for existing donors who continue to give to your charity after March 2013.

 

Ensure that you have planned how you will submit Gift Aid claims from April 2013, according to one of the above three options.

 

Ensure that you have the right people authorised with HMRC and in place to make those claims under the new system. HMRC are sending charities a Form CDUF1(V2) to capture up to date contact and bank etc. details.

 

Ensure that you understand the new Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme so that your charity can take maximum advantage of this from the earliest opportunity.

 

Transitional Period

We are expecting HMRC to agree to a short transitional period, after March 2013, whereby they will accept R68i Forms. This is to give charities a little more time, if they need, to adjust their systems to the new arrangements. To date, no commitment has been made as to how long this will be. Staff presently processing these forms, are to be redeployed elsewhere in HMRC and therefore the transitional period is expected to be short.

Are you a sending church?

By Fiona Mearns | 7 December 2012

Many churches are in the vital role of supporting and encouraging a mission worker, but what does this actually mean? 

In our new paper, Senders’ Guide, Mike Frith demonstrates that mission is a team game and covers the key areas necessary to maintain a strong and enduring partnership between sender and the one who is sent.

Mike is the Director of OSCAR, the UK Information Service for World Mission, and regularly runs workshops for churches to engage with their role as senders.  The next ‘open’ workshop will be at our offices in Loughton on Saturday 2 February.  For more information or to book, visit www.oscar.org.uk/training

 

The (home-made) Christmas Tree

By Alexandra Khan | 4 December 2012 | Comments (2)

image by Wharman

About a week ago I reviewed my finances and realised that this Christmas is going to be very tight. It’s been a mixed year; wonderfully blessed in some areas and terrifically hard in others. C’est la vie. But Christmas is one of those events that I always long to do extravagantly, so the realisation that this year’s budget is practically non-existent was a bit of a shock.

I did what I always do in those kinds of situations: I immediately started to think about all the folk who have it worse off than me. Reminding yourself that there are some people who don’t have a roof, much less a Christmas tree, this time of year is a sure-fire way to gain some perspective.  But it didn’t change the state of my bank account or my list of people to give to, and I knew I was going to have to find a way to do Christmas just as generously…but differently.

I love working at Stewardship. I love it because I get to talk about generosity all day long, create websites and communities alongside generous people and generally feel surrounded by positivity. One of the best bits of the year here is Advent, because we spend time sifting through festive stories of generosity for The Christmas Tree. It’s a website entirely dedicated to inspiring a spirit of unpretentious generosity that sometimes gets lost amid the consumerist din. And it’ll probably also make you laugh.

For me, that was the point at which my bleak finances became an opportunity to strip my generosity back to the core. As I was reading through the submissions for The Christmas Tree, I discovered that true joy at Christmas definitely isn’t in what you get, and it’s not even really in what you give: it’s the spirit with which you give it. Consideration, kindness and love count for much more than simply ticking people off of your ‘to buy’ list.

So this year will be a home-made Christmas. I’m sewing things, finger-painting, baking stuff, generally getting my hands dirty. It’s costing me effort and hours, and that feels like more of a worthy price to pay to be honest.

Read and share some inspirational stories of Christmas generosity on The Christmas Tree here.  

Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme - how Stewardship have helped

By Kevin Russell | 28 November 2012 | Comments (6)

HMRC

The Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme, which will be introduced from April 2013, is very nearly law. The Scheme will allow a new ‘Gift Aid style top up payment’ from the Government on cash donations (such as church collections and bucket collections) but without the need to obtain a Gift Aid Declaration from the donor.

Stewardship has played a central role in the development of this Scheme. We:

 

  • provided input to HMRC, and the Treasury, to the conceptual design of the Scheme;
  • commented on drafts of the Bill that will govern the Scheme;
  • took part in a public consultation, and responded with a number of comments and observations

 

I was called by the Government as an expert witness, to provide evidence to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee, scrutinising the Bill.

 

As a result of this, the Bill has been significantly amended since it was first published and, a number of the amendments directly respond to the concerns that Stewardship expressed to HMRC and the Government: 

 

Gift Aid Matching rule


As originally proposed, in order for a charity to claim for £1 of cash donations under the Scheme, it would have to claim for at least £1 of Gift Aid donations as well. This ‘matching’ rule is designed to reduce the possibility of fraudulent claims. However, we were concerned that this would limit the ability of very small churches and charities to fully benefit, even if they did receive £5,000 of cash donations in a given year, because their Gift Aid income may not be high enough.

Stewardship asked for this ratio to be increased from 1:1 to 10:1 (so that for each £1 of Gift Aid claim, the charity would be able to claim on £10 of cash donations). We were therefore delighted that the Government, this week, agreed to not only increase the ratio but to increase it right up to 10:1 as we originally requested.

 

Eligibility requirements


Before becoming eligible for the Scheme, a charity would need to be registered with HMRC for Gift Aid purposes for at least three years, and to have made successful Gift Aid claims in three of the last seven years. Stewardship expressed concern that this will make it difficult for new charities, and for church plants that become independent of their mother church, to benefit under the Scheme when these are just the sort of charities that need the sort of help that the Scheme offers.

Stewardship therefore asked for this rule to be modified so that ‘younger’ charities could benefit from Year 2, albeit with a lower limit than the £5,000 offered by the main Scheme.

Whilst the Government did not make exactly the change that we pressed for, they have this week changed the Bill so that a charity becomes eligible after two years, and on the basis that successful Gift Aid claims have been made in two out of the last four years.

 

Community buildings rule (1)


In addition to the £5,000 of small cash donations that all charities would be able to claim on, where a charity (such as a church) has meetings in a ‘community building’ (which is defined in the Bill), they will be able to claim on an additional £5,000 of small cash donations. Commercial and residential buildings were excluded from this opportunity.

We were able to persuade Government to modify the commercial buildings restriction so that churches that meet in (for example, leisure centres, cinemas and theatres) will now be able to qualify for these additional payments.

 

Community buildings rule (2)


In order for a community building to be eligible for the additional top up payments, charitable activities need to be carried on with at least 10 persons on at least six occasions during the year. In counting the 10 persons, the Bill as originally drafted excluded some volunteers, persons employed by the charity and officers or trustees of the charity. We were concerned that this would mean that smaller churches would be excluded as volunteers, employees and trustees will typically also be church members.

The Government accepted these concerns and deleted reference to volunteers, employees, officers and trustees.

 

Connected charities rule


In order to prevent charities artificially splitting into a number of new charities in order to gain access to top ups on multiples of the core £5,000 limit, a connected charities’ rule will state that where certain conditions exist, a single £5,000 limit will be shared by all of the connected charities.

Stewardship was worried that because of the many close family connections that exist in the local church, this rule may impact, wrongly, by connecting a number of local community charities, where this was not intended by the legislation. HMRC therefore worked closely with Stewardship to test out a revised connected charities rule.

Charity mergers


We were concerned that where a charity changes its legal form (for example, changing from a charitable trust to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation), or where one charity merges with another, that the eligibility criteria are carried over from the predecessor to successor organisation. This was built into the original Bill but required the predecessor organisation to be dissolved. We pressed for this requirement to be dropped since there are circumstances in charity law whereby the predecessor organisation should be retained. The Government tabled amendments to the Bill that removed the requirement to dissolve.

 

The Small Charitable Donations Bill will now be considered by the House of Lords in December. Once enacted, we will publish a Briefing Paper on the Scheme, tailored to the needs of churches and Christian charities and containing illustrative examples of how you can maximise the benefit for your church or charity.

does your church make overseas payments?

By Kevin Russell | 28 November 2012

If a church makes payments to an overseas entity, it is important that the church’s trustees take suitable steps to ensure that the payments being made are actually used for charitable purposes (even if the purpose in sending them was charitable). In our experience, there are a number of legal traps to look out for and our new Briefing Paper ‘Guidance for Churches making international payments’ is designed to guide churches through the process in a straightforward and proportional manner.


To download your free copy, click here.

Churches Exception from Registration - extended to 31 March 2014

By Kevin Russell | 28 November 2012

Readers of this blog will know that some, but not all, churches must register as a charity with the relevant charity regulator (the Charity Commission in England and Wales, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator in Scotland, and shortly, the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland). 

In England and Wales, the temporary Exception from Registration for certain denominational churches with a gross income of under £100,000, which was due to end in October 2012, has again been extended - this time to 31 March 2014. 

Churches that should be registered with the charity regulator but haven’t yet done so, are advised not to delay and risk losing out on valuable tax reliefs given to charities. This advice follows a change in tax legislation which means that registration with the regulator is essential. 

Further help: 

  • For more on the exception from Charity Registration in England and Wales, click here
  • For more on why churches should register as soon as possible to preserve tax reliefs, click here
  • For more on the registration requirements, refer to our Charities Act 2006 Briefing Paper here

Finance Act 2012 Briefing Paper

By Kevin Russell | 28 November 2012

Our in depth analysis of the implications of the Finance Act 2012 for churches and Christian charities is now available on our website here.

The Paper examines the Gift Aid and VAT measures announced in the 2012 Budget Statement, through the lens of churches and Christian charities. A section on using Gift Aid as a financial planning tool will help donors in their giving decisions. For instance, a number of worked examples show how giving to charity can significantly improve a donor’s personal tax or benefits position.

The Paper also covers previous announcements which are only just being introduced, including the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme and the forthcoming introduction of online filing of Gift Aid claims.

Charitable Incorporated Organisations - a reality at last

By Kevin Russell | 28 November 2012

The long awaited new charity structure, the Charitable Incorporated Organisation, is at last becoming a reality. The CIO was originally conceived many years ago, and enacted in the Charities Act 2006. Two sets of regulations were passed by the House of Lords Grand Committee on 27 November which mean that, at last, the first applications for CIO status can be made. A further two sets of regulations will need to be approved by Parliament to complete the new rules.

 

In the meantime, The Cabinet Office has issued an indicative timetable for the introduction of the new charity structure as follows:

 

Date

Applications open for:

 

 

10th December

The set up of CIOs by brand new charities with anticipated income of over £5,000 (first registrations expected in first week of January 2013)

 

 

1 March 2013

Existing unincorporated charities with an income of over £250,000 transferring assets into a new CIO.

 

 

1 May 2013

Existing unincorporated charities with an income of between £100,000 and £250,000 transferring assets into a new CIO.

 

 

1 July 2013

Existing unincorporated charities with an income of between £25,000 and £100,000 transferring assets into a new CIO.

 

 

1 October 2013

Existing unincorporated charities with an income of between £5,000 and £25,000 transferring assets into a new CIO.

 

 

1 January 2014

Existing unincorporated charities with an income of less than £5,000 transferring assets into a new CIO.

 

The set up of CIOs by brand new charities with anticipated income of less than £5,000

 

 

During 2014

Conversion of existing corporate charities into CIO’s. It is anticipated that that applications will need to be phased by income bracket.

Scottish book week 2012

By Fiona Mearns | 26 November 2012

Book week

At 11 a.m. on St Andrew’s Day thousands of people across Scotland will stop what they’re doing and read. Hopefully, the country won’t grind to a halt but what a fantastic thought – all those noses in books for an hour.  As a self-confessed bibliophile, it’s my idea of bliss.

 

The Reading Hour is part of a week-long series of events run by the Scottish Book Trust to celebrate the place books have in our lives.  For some, reading is a solitary activity, best enjoyed with a cup of tea and a comfy chair; for others, it is more of a communal activity to be shared in book groups, libraries and schools.  Some of my most enduring childhood memories are book-centred: buying my first Enid Blyton book (which I still have, by the way), the smell of the mobile library, listening intently to Bernard Cribbins reading the Paddington Bear stories on Jackanory.

 

So, I pondered, how can we be generous and celebrate our love of books at the same time?  Well, it turns out that there are more options than you might think.  Here are some of the ones I came up with but you may have more ideas:

 

  • Have a clear out and give your old books to charity shops.  My personal favourite is the bookshop at Pitlochry station platform.
  • Hold your own book sale and donate the proceeds to a cause.
  • Volunteer to read: primary schools and playgroups are delighted to hear from volunteers willing to read to groups of children.  This is also a great way for churches to link to their local schools.
  • Think about offering your time to read books or newspapers to benefit those with sight impairments.  Our local paper, the Strathearn Herald offers such a scheme. Get in touch with the Association of Scottish Talking Newspapers to find out if there are volunteer groups in your area.
  • Support the Scottish Bible Society to bring bibles to rural parts of China. See for yourself the excitement created by the arrival of a shipment of bibles: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pieFAsTS2og
  • Or you could take a leaf out of my book (sorry) and volunteer a few hours a week to a local Christian Bookshop or maybe set up a book stall at your church.

It could be the start of a new chapter for you . . . .

Other Links:

http://www.volunteerscotland.org.uk for other reading-related opportunities

Comrie Book Group and the 2011 Booker Prize authors: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00l9g4z

The Seeing Ear http://www.seeingear.org/TSE/

RNIB National Library service http://www.rnib.org.uk/livingwithsightloss/reading/services/rnibnationallibrary/Pages/national_library_service.aspx

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