During the Covid-19 pandemic, much of the focus has been on shoring up existing delivery and, where possible, extending arrangements if it is not possible to re-procure.
The Commission have their sights set on charities that have entered into business rates arrangements that exploit tax legislation artificially and serve to benefit private interests, with charities benefiting as a by-product rather than a principal aim.
Reasonable and prudent tax planning is fine but the Commission want an appreciation of the potential of some business rates avoidance schemes to bring reputational damage to charities and the sector generally.
The Charity Commission has warned that appropriate advice on reliefs such as business rates should be taken.
The main concern on business rates is charities leasing empty properties from private landlords, carrying out limited or no charitable activity and claiming relief. The arrangement allows the Landlord to save money on empty properties with the charity also sometimes receiving a reverse premium from the Landlord.
The caselaw to date focuses on offices used for the display of artwork with little or no public access, wifi transmitters in office blocks and partial occupation of warehouses. The key question of whether the property is used wholly or mainly for charitable purposes is yet to be definitively answered in relation to the persentage use of floor space. The generally accepted view on charity shops for charitable use is anything greater than 50% of the floor space qualifies but the question remains for other properties.
This is another timely reminder to charities to take advice as the Commission are threatening investigations.
For more information
Contact Dominic Curran
The Prime Minister announced on Tuesday 22 September a new range of restrictions to protect us from the Covid crisis, some of which will apply to charities.
Following the end of the possession stay on 21 September, Helen Tucker & Rebecca Sembuuze from our housing litigation team discuss the most recent guidance, priority cases and what to expect in court.
Covid-19 has resulted, on the whole, in a marked co-operation between contracting authorities and their suppliers as everybody focuses on maintaining delivery as far as possible.
Employment Tribunal rules in favour of claimants in minimum wage case – has the interpretation of “working time” changed?
As we enter a recession, we have been here before, and a key question is what did we learn and how can we benefit from that learning?
It is anticipated that as lockdown restrictions ease, and particularly with children and young adults returning to education, cases of meningitis will start to rise.
As we continue to emerge from lockdown measures and deal with local measures and the short and long term economic impact of Covid-19, local authorities will need to re-assess how services will be delivered for years to come.
The Government first announced plans for a shared ownership right to buy in October 2019. At the time the sector raised concerns about the impact the plans would have on housing associations ability to borrow. An election and a pandemic later the Government announced, during the CIH Housing Festival last week, the return of the right to shared ownership as part of its Affordable Homes Programme (AHP).
Two final pieces of the possession jigsaw have been published on 15 September 2020. Mr Justice Knowles’ working group on possession proceedings has issued its guidance on the “overall arrangements” for possession proceedings.
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