Action 4 Botton

Charity Insurance Debacle Amid Governance Controversy and Accounting Questions

27 February 2015

Campaigners are alleging that Camphill Village Trust’s (CVT) insurance cover has to be hastily re-arranged.

For years the insurance provision for all Camphill charities in the UK has been arranged by the Camphill Insurance Agency, which was set up by the Association of Camphill Communities (AoCC). This month, however Camphill’s insurance broker has separated the insurance of non-CVT communities from CVT in order to sustain the beneficial premium rate for those other insured members in the remainder of the Association’s membership.

Going forward the premiums for the separate CVT insurance arrangements will be calculated on the Claims Experience that has been generated from the activities of CVT as a separate entity.

AoCC members benefit from favourable premiums and terms provided by Ecclesiastical Insurance due to the vocational, volunteer composition of the communities and the highly ethical nature of the Camphill ethos, which is noticeably lacking in the conduct of CVT management of late.

CVT has carried out root and branch changes to the organisation including the controversial policies of forcing volunteer workers to become employees, on a variety of pretexts, and segregating the learning disabled from their Co-worker families against their express wishes and needs, coupled with the dismantling of their proven traditional self-governing model.

These moves have caused a worldwide storm of protest from the international Camphill movement and stakeholders and not least from the charity’s beneficiaries, the vulnerable learning-disabled residents of its communities. Three campaign groups at different CVT communities – Botton near Whitby, Delrow near Watford and the Grange at Newnham-on-Severn - oppose these fundamental changes, with the residents even presenting their own petition this week at 10 Downing St to express their opposition.

The insurance market in general terms is increasing Liability Ratings in view of adverse Claims Experience relating to Abuse allegations and Medical Malpractice incidents. Given the number and diversity of the ongoing legal issues and tribunal actions mounting against CVT, and their reduced purchasing power now they are separated from the AoCC Insurance Programme it will be interesting to see how their insurance could be replaced without a significant increase in premium.

CVT is already under scrutiny with campaigners highlighting serious questions including a worrying lack of transparency in their annual accounts and, at the beginning of February, a sudden Trustee resignation citing governance issues, including concerns relating to the Memorandum and Articles. In addition, there are claims of harassment being made to local police and pending actions for compensation by ex-community members who claim to have been bullied out of their communities.

Furthermore, two letters before action have been issued; one from campaigners (including parents from one community now devoid of Co-workers) that has been issued by solicitors over potential breaches of the charity’s Articles along with accusations of a form of manipulation of the membership before last year’s stormy AGM, and the second over breaches of the Human Rights Act from some learnings disabled residents themselves.