Action 4 Botton

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Complaints about CVT to the Charity Commission

14 February 2015

This page will inform you about some complaints made by the Botton Village Parent Group. These are in addition to complaints made by the Delrow Parent Group, which we have reported separately.

Already before CVT's monumental announcement of 13 May 2014 there was worrying evidence that the charity was moving increasingly further away from the intentions laid out in the Memorandum, from shared family life with the Villagers and by marginalising co-workers. On 13 May it became clear that this was CVT’s policy and had been for some years.

Over the past 18 months there have been many complaints forwarded to the Charity Commission about the actions of CVT’s trustees and senior management. These include letters from individual relatives and friends, a group of concerned relatives, and lawyers on behalf of relatives.

To indicate the extent of concern: one group of relatives have sent an official complaint, a notice of dissatisfaction at the outcome and a second complaint, two requests for documentation under the Freedom of Information Act, a Customer Feedback Form and numerous subsequent questions. The request attached to the Feedback Form reads:

Please find enclosed the completed Customer Feedback Form together with our letter of Complaint No 2 to the Commission and a spreadsheet explaining the changes that CVT are undertaking and the irreversibly detrimental impact these will have on our loved ones who have chosen to live in the Camphill Botton Village with volunteer co-workers. We hope that the Commission will at last wake up to the desperate situation our relatives are in and bring the Trustees and senior management to account.”

From this it will be seen that the Commission views CVT not as it would other charities but states that the Commission cannot arbitrate in disputes about doctrine or ethos”. By making this comment it absolves itself of any responsibility. It states that it relies upon the information provided from the charity and even if necessary it does not have the resources to investigate, finally stating in January 2015 that The Commission will not be launching an investigation into the charity.”

In a 2014 Public Accounts Committee Report MPs stated “It is clear that the Charity Commission is not fit for purpose”, that it too willingly accepted charities’ versions of events.

However, there is light. This has not put an end to dialogue with them, and their most recent response “The question of whether the status of an individual is that of an employee or a co-worker is not a matter of charity law, and as such is not something that we can comment on” nailed the lie of CVT’s repeated claim that the Commission had advised them that co-workers must be employed.

In the face of lies and deception by CVT, incontrovertible evidence of which has been given to them, the Commission have so far stuck to their line of no investigation. However, by continuing to raise questions about the misdeeds of CVT, as they become clearer, with the Commission we believe that they will have no option but to take the trustees and senior management to task.

 

Correspondence

18 September 2013, a group of Botton parents made a substantial complaint about CVT to the Charity Commission, largely centred on the "Departure from the Memorandum of Association ‐ CVT has departed significantly from the Memorandum by deliberate and admitted actions ultra vires and is intending to depart further, by implementing a recent review that takes no account of the Charity’s Objects."  Link  

1 November 2013, the Charity Commission responds.  Link  

14 July 2014, further response by the Commission  Link  

19 August 2014, Dr. S. Larkin wrote to the Charity Commission  Link  

14 October 2014, Brian Knight, father of a Botton resident, wrote to the Commission  Link

25 November 2014, the Commission responds  Link   

27 November 2014, Max White wrote to the Charity Commission  Link  

14 December 2014, the Commission replies  Link  

15 December 2014, Max White responds  Link  

 

On 23 January 2015, relatives wrote to the Charity Commission:

"CVT are now proceeding with their intention, as advised in our letter to the Commission of the 14th May 2014, to evict all the vocational co-workers at Botton by the end of this financial year. CVT’s justification for doing so is 'This is because they do not accept that they are employees although legal advice from both the Charity Commission and HMRC has confirmed that this is the case.' 

In the case of the HMRC they have confirmed that they have made no such determination. The sole justification for CVT’s actions therefore focuses on their statement that the Charity Commission has provided legal advice that the co-workers are employed. We would be grateful if you would confirm, by return, whether or not the Commission has provided to CVT the legal advice, that volunteer co-workers are employees, that they claim."  Link  

On 4 February 2015, the Charity Commission reponded:

"You have asked us to confirm whether or not the Commission has provided legal advice to CVT that volunteer co-workers are employees. I can confirm that we have not done so. The Commission does not give direct legal advice to charities. The question of whether the status of an individual is that of an employee or a co-worker is not a matter of charity law, and as such is not something that we can comment on."   Link