Gift aid on school trip donations

Schools generally cannot charge for trips undertaken as part of the National Curriculum and during school hours, and so it is common place to ask for voluntary contributions or a donation, often ‘suggesting’ or inviting a suitable level. It’s worth noting that a minimum cannot be enforced. Although independent schools can charge for trips academies do not have this as one of their freedoms, and academies’ funding agreements requires them to comply with the law on charging for school activities.

Department for Education (DfE) guidance states that “schools must ensure that they inform parents on low incomes and in receipt of certain benefits of the support available to them when being asked for contributions towards the cost of school visits”. More information on trips (and a wide range of other issues) is available in the DfE publication charging for school activities.

Unfortunately it won’t be possible to claim gift aid unless the payment made for the trip is considerably more than the actual cost. In practice it is extremely rare for gift aid to apply in these circumstances anyway, because for gift aid to apply the donor, or in this case the donor’s children, cannot benefit and the travel and trip admissions etc. would count as benefits.

Benefit limits apply – the maximum value of benefits is 25% of the donation – and this threshold will usually be exceeded easily. Once the threshold has been exceeded gift aid is not available. By way of example, for a trip costing £10 per head then a parent would have to give at least £40 before Gift Aid becomes possible – I suspect few schools have such generous parents!

Gift aid can apply in other circumstances, however, so if you have any questions please contact me or one of our academy schools experts at your nearest location.

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