SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan

SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan

( December 17, 2012, UK, Refugee News Network )-SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan has been praised by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) for his recent contributions to debates on the Small Charitable Donations Bill and for highlighting the concerns of the charity sector over the excessive bureaucracy the Bill could create.

The Small Donations Scheme now enables charities in Derry and throughout the North to claim yearly Gift Aid-style tax relief on cash donations worth up to ?5,000 (increasing the value of ?5,000 worth of cash donations to ?6,250).

During the debates, Mr Durkan also called on Ministers to take every step to ensure that the plans took full account of the specific circumstances of Northern Ireland ? not least cross-border charitable giving.

Deputy Chief Executive of NCVO, Ben Kernighan, said:

?NCVO and our partners have always welcomed the Small Donations Scheme as a positive development of the Gift Aid landscape for charities. But we have been concerned that stringent eligibility criteria proposed by the Treasury would have excluded many of the charities that needed the Scheme the most.

?Mr Durkan?s contributions to the debate have made a great difference.  The amendments voted through on the 26th November indicate that the government has listened to the concerns raised by parliamentarians and the charity sector.  As a result, the Scheme will be of greater benefit to many thousands of charities.?

The Foyle MP said:

?I was happy to give the Small Charitable Donations Bill my positive support as it provided an opportunity for us to do some good and to improve the position of charities.

?However, I was also concerned that government would create hurdles that were impossible for charities to surmount.

?I therefore called on the government to ensure that the bureaucracy and detail was not unnecessarily prescriptive or restrictive for charities.

?Indeed, this was called the Small Charitable Donations Bill and I didn?t want it having a by-name of the ?Petty Conditions Bill? whereby some of the qualifying conditions would end up more often becoming disqualifying rather than qualifying conditions in practice.

?I do welcome the fact that the Bill ended up with government tabling amendments at Report Stage which they had resisted from me (and others) at the Committee Stage.

?However, while more charities will benefit, and benefit sooner, I do believe that it is still too restricted and complicated for a great many charities ? including those who collect on a cross-border basis.?

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