Yesterday the Chancellor announced he would not proceed with the proposed limits on tax reliefs for charitable donations. This was a surprising, yet deeply welcome move. Despite the proposal being unworkable, unfair, uninformed by evidence, and opposed by a unique coalition of donors, charities and public opinion – the government seemed unlikely to pursue the only ‘U’ anyone wanted: a full U-turn.
In the ten weeks since this proposal was first announced in the March Budget, the mood music from the Treasury has shifted from insulting (“philanthropists are tax dodgers”) to intransigent (“this will happen”) and finally to face-saving (“how can we fix this without looking bad”). The desire to save face and avoid a politically-dreaded U-turn, made a watered-down version of the original proposal seem the most likely outcome. So yesterday’s announcement was a welcome bombshell – the best Jubilee gift for all those reliant on raising funds from the rich.