Cash for charities
Charities and community organisations have until 12 November to claim funds from HMRC for programmes which help vulnerable and hard-to-reach groups with their benefit entitlements and tax problems.
The annual Grant in Aid (GIA) scheme run by HMRC is in its third year. Voluntary and community organisations, charities, social enterprises and co-operatives can all apply for a share of a £2.33m funding pot, spread over 2009-11. HMRC hopes the programme will continue to increase take-up of tax credits and help vulnerable customers get the right benefit entitlements and pay the right amount of tax. Last year funding went to national charities such as Citizens Advice and the Royal National Institute of Blind People, but also to smaller initiatives like Tax Help for Older People, part of the Lower Income Tax Reform Group, and educational charity the Life Academy.
Many people find the benefits and tax credit systems extremely confusing and are unable to pay for professional advice to resolve their problems. Pensioners are particularly hard hit; because of the way the state pension is administered, many pensioners are caught by the complex and time-consuming self-assessment process – or worse still, are not in self-assessment and are having tax deducted from their income which is rightfully theirs.