The Budget got a mixed reception from Christian organisations, with some praising the lifting of millions out of poverty and others criticising the lack of commitment to marriage.
John Scott, chief executive of Christian prison charity Daylight, said the moves to simplify gift aid and allow charitable giving out of one’s estate for inheritance tax purposes was positive. He said, ‘The Chancellor’s announcements to encourage more charitable giving are welcome.
‘For small organisations that struggle with overstretched resources, reducing the administrative burden of gift aid, so that more time and effort can be put into delivering frontline services, is a big step forward. The Government’s commitment to encourage legacy giving is also crucial at a time when many organisations are seeing cuts in public sector funding’.
Aidan Vaughan, of the Association of Christian Financial Advisers, said, ‘Consumers are in a bind — stagnant wages, higher taxes, the highest inflation since 1991, low returns on savings and of course the spending cuts.
‘New borrowing is targeted to be reduced to £26 billion by 2015/16 — when will we repay all of this new debt?’
However, he welcomed the increase in tax relief for small businesses under the enterprise investment scheme and the raising of personal allowances by £1,000 in the 2011/12 tax year to £7,475, to take perhaps half a million people out of paying tax altogether.
Mr Vaughan added, ‘Help for 10,000 first-time buyers and an extension of the help to mortgage payers in trouble is also good news.
‘As Christians, we want a just society but yet allow people, especially the emerging generations, to be able to fulfil their potential. There is maybe another message to take from a financial squeeze — endeavour to keep your finances straightforward and beware of greed’.
Pro-life charity Care expressed disappointment that the Government has not maintained its pre-election pledge to recognise marriage in the tax system. Its chief executive Nola Leach said, ‘In 2008/09 the tax burden on one-earner married couples with two children on average wage was 33 per cent greater than the OECD average.
‘This figure rose to 39 per cent in 2009/10. Without urgent action, this discrepancy will rise to over 50 per cent in 2012/13 unless radical changes — such as recognising marriage in the tax system — are made.’
The Conservative Party manifesto committed to making Britain the most family-friendly country in Europe; for many, however, it is in danger of becoming one of ‘the least’.