DIOCESES in England and Wales are preparing to "educate the laity" in a drive to avoid the loss of thousands of pounds as a result of changes in charity taxation laws, writes Citra Sidhu.
From April 6 this year, the covenant scheme, which enables parishes to reclaim tax on fixed annual donations, will be replaced by a simpler "gift aid" scheme, which does not entail a fixed commitment from donors.
Fergus Brotherton, chairman of the Conference of Finance Secretaries for England and Wales, said: "It's difficult to know whether it will work. For example, on the I currentl standing order scheme, even if someone was away, the money still came through. Without a doubt, this is going to be a great challenge to the Church."
The new laws will mean that parishes will be able to claim the tax on all donations, regardless of size or frequency. How much the Church will make will depend on parishioners disciplining themselves to donate regularly.
Mr Brotherton said: "A key issue will be how to put it across to the laity. We have to promote the idea of stewardship in a more pro-active way and so educate the laity on how and how much to give."