Download Social and Economic Benefits of Trusts
Trusts have a longstanding tradition under English Common Law, most recently acknowledged by the UK government that stated in 2018 in its Taxation of Trusts consultation document, ‘Trusts are an intrinsic part of the UK’s legal system, and have been in use for centuries.’ The document also acknowledged that there are ‘many circumstances throughout UK society in which trusts play a valuable role’. This is a theme prevalent in many jurisdictions, in both common and civil law, where trust-like structures can also be found.
As private legal arrangements, it can be difficult to source quantified, empirical evidence about the uses of trusts and the benefits they bring, both economically and socially. The counter-evidence where trusts have been used for improper purposes or where trustees have abused their powers is more readily available and quantified.
The purpose of this work is therefore to draw together existing evidence and research about the ways in which trusts can be, and are, used for wider societal benefit, and how they impact every facet of society. In part, this is about improving understanding and addressing common misconceptions, both by presenting the positive evidence base and by shining a light on how and why trusts are used.
It is for practitioners, regulators, policymakers and the public to determine how the use of trusts will evolve in future. In pulling together the available evidence, this report seeks to create a more detailed picture about trusts and how they are used, and to demonstrate the important role that they play in what may be very ordinary contexts.