Third sector bodies have written to the government to urge them to ensure new plans for charity water rates relief apply to all charities
Charity shops should not be treated differently from other organisations under new plans to increase water rates relief.
The Charity Retail Association and the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations(SCVO) this week urged the Scottish Government to ensure charity shops aren’t suddenly hit by bills for hundreds of pounds.
The organisations have welcomed the plans which will see the current complicated water rates exemption scheme scrapped. It will be replaced with a new scheme that extends water rate exemptions to all charities with an income under £200,000.
Restricting the scheme on the basis of what organisations do rather than what their purpose is would in our view be an unfair distinction - Charity Retail Association and SCVO
It means over 19,000 of Scotland’s 23,500 charities, as well as hundreds of amateur sports clubs, will qualify.
A letter to deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon welcomed the move and called for all charities to be eligible for the exemption.
“Small organisations run on extremely tight budgets and make the most of the money available to them,” Martin Sime, chief executive of SCVO, and Warren Alexander, chief executive of the Charity Retail Association, said in the letter.
“The savings made on water rates will be put to good use in delivering their charitable objects which provide significant benefits to the public.
“We are looking forward to the full details of the scheme becoming available and working with the Scottish Government to ensure organisations have the information they need to access the scheme and its benefits.”
However, they added: “We would not agree with any proposal to exclude retail outlets from the scheme, provided they meet the other criteria.
“Restricting the scheme on the basis of what organisations do rather than what their purpose is would in our view be an unfair distinction. Charity shops provide public benefit so they should be included in the proposals.”
Recent research from Demos, Giving Something Back: Measuring the social value of charity shops, demonstrated the impact charity shops can have beyond their fundraising activities. Similar arguments apply to community cafes, which are often opened to fulfil an unmet need and offer a wide range of other benefits to their community.