Local people adversely affected by WFDC policy decision

The decision by Wyre Forest District Council (WFDC) to cancel discretionary business rate tax relief for Wyre Forest charities means fewer people will be able to access vital support. KEMP Hospice and the Emily Jordan Foundation are two charities adversely affected by WFDC’s decision. Emily Jordan Foundation chair of the trustees, Chris Jordan, said: “It’s a very sad situation and we are all very surprised and disappointed by this cynical action taken by WFDC. To put things in perspective, all of the money my son, who has learning disabilities, raised when he and I walked up Mount Kilimanjaro in July will now have to be handed over to the council to pay for rates! Alex worked very hard to complete this difficult climb and help others with learning disabilities – it’s a shame that the Council seem to have a different attitude to this very disadvantaged group? This decision will directly affect what we are able to do in supporting these individuals, who all live in the Wyre Forest area. It is hard enough to raise money today, in a very difficult financial environment, without having the public sector working against local Charities.” Currently Central Government allows all charities in the UK to enjoy 80% tax relief, irrespective of charity size, with a further 20% discretionary tax relief available and applied by local authorities. KEMP Hospice CEO, Terry Osborn, said: “When I met with Wyre Forest District Council and our local MP Mark Garnier to discuss the situation, WFDC explained that as of last year Central Government passed responsibility and cost for the discretionary element across to local authorities, allowing the decision to be made locally. The outcome of this decision, and made without any consultation to our knowledge, was to apply a cap at which point any charity with over £40,000 of free reserves would have the discretionary tax relief withdrawn. KEMP Hospice now has a bill of nearly £4,000 meaning 4 people will not be able to access our services. I am not aware of any other local authority in this area taking this course of action and certainly colleagues in adjoining hospices have not been affected. According to WFDC KEMP Hospice services saves them money, so this decision just doesn’t make any sense?” WFDC has assisted KEMP retail to obtain an EU funded, one off rebate, on five of their shops which pay rates. Terry Osborn stated: “We are grateful to WFDC for their help in obtaining these rebates, which come to just over £3000.” The direct costs for KEMP Hospice to provide key services to patients and service users is around £750,000 annually, with KEMP helping well-over over 700 people in the last year through Day Hospice, Hospice at Home, Bereavement, Family Support, KEMP for Kids and specialist clinics equating to an average of £1,000 per service, which is all provided to patients free of charge. For KEMP Hospice, paying WFDC an additional £4,000 means that within the Wyre Forest 4 people will not now have access to vital services offered through KEMP. Government funded income via the NHS to cover key KEMP service costs has remained static for the last three years, effectively meaning their funding has been cut due to inflation. Chris Jordan added: “This has hit us and other Charities with premises very hard. The last thing the Foundation needs is more expenditure, especially as all other financial support from District and County Councils has now stopped. The Foundation is entirely reliant for income on voluntary support and fund raising, and personal budgets. Many of our hardworking fundraisers are simply amazed and appalled at this decision. We have discussed the situation with WFDC at length, but they remain completely inflexible, despite that fact that we help to reduce their social costs with the work we do supporting young people with learning disabilities. By supporting these individuals to learn new skills we give them purpose in life – something they really need. “In addition it is important to point out that only Wyre Forest in Worcestershire has taken this decision – neither Wychavon nor Worcester City Council is doing this!”