States 'treats charities with supreme indifference’

CHARITIES and volunteers are being forced to do the heavy lifting to support the community, while the States shows ‘supreme indifference’ about how to help the organisations.

Association of Guernsey Charities vice-chairman Peter Rose. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 21249599)
Association of Guernsey Charities vice-chairman Peter Rose. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 21249599)

That was the damning verdict from Association of Guernsey Charities vice-chairman Peter Rose at an Institute of Directors’ lunch yesterday, as he called for government to make changes to help charities, such as setting up a better Gift Aid system.

There are about 500 charities in Guernsey – nearly twice as many per head of population as the UK – with volunteers putting in work that would cost between £75m. and £120m. a year, if they were paid.

Mr Rose said, despite the scale of the work taking place, there was no government department to guide or monitor the organisations and rarely any meetings with deputies.

‘It’s a bit odd, isn’t it, that charities do so much heavy lifting for the States, but no one in the States seems terribly bothered about it,’ he said.

‘The reason why the sector has so little money is directly down to the lack of States interest in properly supporting and developing the sector.’

He said local charities survived thanks to volunteers, rather than money.

‘The reason – and there is no way to sugar coat it – is what feels like supreme indifference on the part of the States to assist charities for the work they do for our community,’ he said.

‘I doubt there is any deliberate intention, but it’s an asymmetric relationship that appears to many to take maximum advantage of the good nature of people behind charities, and it needs to change.’

Mr Rose said there were several ways the States could improve its relationship with and support for charities.

This includes improving how Gift Aid is dealt with and introducing payroll giving. Gift Aid is set to be revised next year, but Mr Rose said there needed to be more details. A new commission is set to administer payroll giving, but that has not been set up.

In terms of lottery takings, Guernsey’s good causes benefit only from the Christmas lottery, with scratchcard profits going to the States. In Jersey, money from both goes to charities.

This means that Guernsey causes got just £190,000 last year, compared with Jersey causes, which will be sharing £1.25m.

Mr Rose also criticised the government for not offering more funding to charities. In Jersey and the UK the running of Cheshire Homes are funded by government, but in Guernsey the charity has to find £500,000 to cover the home’s costs.

Guernsey Citizens Advice Bureau was offered £27,000 – 10% of what the charity receives in Jersey – but refused due to the number of conditions attached.

A States spokesman said they had responded to Mr Rose’s concerns on previous occasions.

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