Charities running charitable activities in community buildings

Part of Small Charitable Donations and Childcare Payments Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:15 am on 18th October 2016.

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Photo of Rebecca Long-Bailey Rebecca Long-Bailey Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 10:15 am, 18th October 2016

I shall try to keep my comments brief. Clauses 3 and 4 relate to the community buildings rule. Additional top-up payments may be made to those charities that meet and collect small cash donations in a community building. Every charity is entitled to an £8,000 a year allowance. Charities that carry out charitable activities in one or more community buildings can claim additional top-up payments of £8,000 per building subject to certain criteria. As the stewardship comprehensive guide to the scheme explains:

“A community building is a building, or part of a building, to which the public or a section of the public have access at some or all of the time.

So, a building which is kept locked other than at the times that Sunday services are held will qualify, provided that the public have access to it when it is open for public worship. Equally, if a church rents space in a local community centre on a Sunday morning, for the purpose of Christian worship, provided that the public have access to it, the use by the church on a Sunday will mean that the parts of the community centre used exclusively by the church will qualify as a community building.”

The community building is eligible if the charity carries out charitable activities on six or more occasions in the tax year with a group of at least 10 people. Clauses 3 and 4 would make a series of changes to the rules governing community buildings. Clause 3 would allow a charity to claim up to £8,000 from small donations raised anywhere, or up to £8,000 from donations collected from each community building it has. In the latter case, donations would include those made in person in the local authority area in which the community building is situated. Clause 4 affects the rules for connected charities making claims under the scheme where one or more of the charities run charitable activities in a community building. The House of Commons Library briefing paper summarised the change, stating that a group of charities will be entitled to claim

“up to £8,000 small donations made in the local authority area in which each community building is located.”

Alternatively it would be able claim

“up to £8,000 small donations made anywhere in the UK.”

As the first would generally be more beneficial, that would be the default option. The Opposition are very happy to support these changes to the rules governing community buildings. However, the Charity Tax Group has raised one point. It has called for a review of the requirement for there to be at least six events a year in a community building, and that they must be attended by at least 10 people. The group said that the rule is “arbitrary” and “impractical” for many charities, especially those in isolated community buildings or that have peaks in use, for example. Could the Minister use this opportunity to address the Charity Tax Group’s concerns about that rule? Other than that point I have no further comments.