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> Alms house pity, Trust the LibDems; it's only money, your money!
On the edge
post May 4 2017, 10:28 AM
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Oh dear, this week's NWN reports that NTC turned down a request from the trustees replacing the Mable Luke Almshouses for ten grand. Senior LibDems (who just happen to be trustees) are wringing hands and gnashing teeth at the injustice of it all!

What planet do these people inhabit? Is a Council in a financial environment were every brass farthing is closely scrutinised and even quite necessary services stopped likely to bail out a clearly flush charity?

And these are the people who think then should be trusted to form an alternative Government!


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Turin Machine
post May 4 2017, 10:54 AM
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QUOTE (On the edge @ May 4 2017, 11:28 AM) *
Oh dear, this week's NWN reports that NTC turned down a request from the trustees replacing the Manke Luke Almshouses for ten grand. Senior LibDems (who just happen to be trustees) are wringing hands and gnashing teeth at the injustice of it all!

What planet do these people inhabit? Is a Council in a financial environment were every brass farthing is closely scrutinised and even quite necessary services stopped likely to bail out a clearly flush charity?

And these are the people who think then should be trusted to form an alternative Government!

Brexit.
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CharlieF
post May 4 2017, 06:33 PM
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I'm not at all comfortable with the way the Trustees are playing fast and loose with this development. While I understand there was a certain amount of land on the site that could and should be developed to provide more housing in line with the original bequest, it can't be right that the express wish to provide homes for families with children should be ridden rough shod over, demolishing the family homes, evicting the tenants and replacing them with 1 and 2 bed flats. That's just wrong.
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TallDarkAndHands...
post May 4 2017, 07:00 PM
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QUOTE (CharlieF @ May 4 2017, 07:33 PM) *
I'm not at all comfortable with the way the Trustees are playing fast and loose with this development. While I understand there was a certain amount of land on the site that could and should be developed to provide more housing in line with the original bequest, it can't be right that the express wish to provide homes for families with children should be ridden rough shod over, demolishing the family homes, evicting the tenants and replacing them with 1 and 2 bed flats. That's just wrong.


Targets.
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Simon Kirby
post May 5 2017, 06:48 AM
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QUOTE (On the edge @ May 4 2017, 11:28 AM) *
Oh dear, this week's NWN reports that NTC turned down a request from the trustees replacing the Mable Luke Almshouses for ten grand. Senior LibDems (who just happen to be trustees) are wringing hands and gnashing teeth at the injustice of it all!

What planet do these people inhabit? Is a Council in a financial environment were every brass farthing is closely scrutinised and even quite necessary services stopped likely to bail out a clearly flush charity?

And these are the people who think then should be trusted to form an alternative Government!

Alms houses are an anachronism. You have no security of tenure and are entirely at the whim of the trustees. Better to let the trust lapse and hand the houses to the local authority as no one should be dependent on charity for a home.


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On the edge
post May 5 2017, 08:41 PM
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QUOTE (Simon Kirby @ May 5 2017, 07:48 AM) *
Alms houses are an anachronism. You have no security of tenure and are entirely at the whim of the trustees. Better to let the trust lapse and hand the houses to the local authority as no one should be dependent on charity for a home.


Ironic really, the article in the NWN free magazine makes play that before the trustees started to meddle, the houses were managed by Newbury District Council as council houses. Classic stuff; you think 'the State' is looking after you; but no, someone always knows better. And this is Tory / LibDem West Berks, who criticise Labour for wanting to protect tenants.


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blackdog
post May 6 2017, 01:43 PM
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QUOTE (CharlieF @ May 4 2017, 07:33 PM) *
I'm not at all comfortable with the way the Trustees are playing fast and loose with this development. While I understand there was a certain amount of land on the site that could and should be developed to provide more housing in line with the original bequest, it can't be right that the express wish to provide homes for families with children should be ridden rough shod over, demolishing the family homes, evicting the tenants and replacing them with 1 and 2 bed flats. That's just wrong.

The 'families with children' aspect was badly mismanaged for years - the families grew, the children left home and the sitting tenants were left there, long after they met the criteria. It was, in reality, a crazy idea from the first place - yet done with the very best of intentions. The only realistic way to manage it would have been by giving time limited tenancies - until the last child was 16, 18, whatever.

Of course times have changed since the 1920s, families with children are far more likely to be given housing by the local authority/housing association than those without - so there is greater need to house childless families, single people - and far more of these can have their needs met by a block of flats than a few family houses.

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blackdog
post May 6 2017, 01:45 PM
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QUOTE (Simon Kirby @ May 5 2017, 07:48 AM) *
Alms houses are an anachronism. You have no security of tenure and are entirely at the whim of the trustees. Better to let the trust lapse and hand the houses to the local authority as no one should be dependent on charity for a home.

If the trust lapsed would the assets not revert to Mabel Luke's estate?
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On the edge
post May 6 2017, 02:02 PM
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QUOTE (blackdog @ May 6 2017, 02:45 PM) *
If the trust lapsed would the assets not revert to Mabel Luke's estate?


Was there any real reason why the houses could not simply have stayed in the management of Newbury District Council and successors? I appreciate there are Trust deeds, but trust deeds are changed all the time, its not a particularly difficult process.


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blackdog
post May 6 2017, 02:58 PM
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QUOTE (On the edge @ May 6 2017, 03:02 PM) *
Was there any real reason why the houses could not simply have stayed in the management of Newbury District Council and successors? I appreciate there are Trust deeds, but trust deeds are changed all the time, its not a particularly difficult process.

As a trustee of a tiny charity I have been advised that, were we to wind up the charity, the Charity Commission would require us to pass the assets to another charity with broadly similar aims. I guess they would prefer the Mabel Luke assets to pass to another almshouse charity (there are several in Newbury) than to the district council.
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Simon Kirby
post May 6 2017, 05:49 PM
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QUOTE (blackdog @ May 6 2017, 02:45 PM) *
If the trust lapsed would the assets not revert to Mabel Luke's estate?

No, I don't think so, I believe trust law would only allow the assets to be passed on to a body with broadly similar aims like a housing association, unless the trust deed allows otherwise.

[Edit] I wrote my response without having read yours to OtE above, so I guess the argument would be whether a housing association had sufficiently similar aims. Alms houses are weird as an alms house tenancy would appear to be a licence rather than a tenancy as such and so occupiers get none of the usual protections, miserably poor as they are. I don't know what makes an alms house an alms house and what distinguishes an alms house charity from any other housing association.


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blackdog
post May 7 2017, 12:05 AM
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QUOTE (Simon Kirby @ May 6 2017, 06:49 PM) *
No, I don't think so, I believe trust law would only allow the assets to be passed on to a body with broadly similar aims like a housing association, unless the trust deed allows otherwise.

[Edit] I wrote my response without having read yours to OtE above, so I guess the argument would be whether a housing association had sufficiently similar aims. Alms houses are weird as an alms house tenancy would appear to be a licence rather than a tenancy as such and so occupiers get none of the usual protections, miserably poor as they are. I don't know what makes an alms house an alms house and what distinguishes an alms house charity from any other housing association.


Housing associations have charitable status, but they're only pseudo charities - but they do muddy the waters in respect of almshouse charities. However, as they have distinctly differing tenancy rights I guess that it is easy enough to distinguish between them.

If there was no local almshouse trust to amalgamate with I'd guess a housing association would be found acceptable, but that isn't the case around here.
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On the edge
post May 7 2017, 06:47 AM
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I'm far from convinced that a reasonably competent lawyer couldn't solve the trust deed issue quickly and economically. It's already been said, that the provisions make it almost impossible to deliver anyway. Let's also not forget those who benefit from the Charity; the poor tenants. It's pretty clear they had no idea that the Charity worked as it does and appear as aggrieved as long term tenants of a commercial landlord acting in the same way. Presumably they had no 'right to buy' and even if they did, under the terms of the Trust, exercising it would surely mean they were no longer poor - Catch 22! The basic premise of the Trust is to help poor people; who will never be able to better themselves. In other words, know your place, I always knew LibDem's were Tory at heart!


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Simon Kirby
post May 7 2017, 08:52 AM
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QUOTE (blackdog @ May 7 2017, 01:05 AM) *
Housing associations have charitable status, but they're only pseudo charities - but they do muddy the waters in respect of almshouse charities. However, as they have distinctly differing tenancy rights I guess that it is easy enough to distinguish between them.

If there was no local almshouse trust to amalgamate with I'd guess a housing association would be found acceptable, but that isn't the case around here.

I'm not so sure that an Alms house trust will necessarily be a charity.


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Simon Kirby
post May 7 2017, 09:01 AM
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QUOTE (blackdog @ May 6 2017, 03:58 PM) *
As a trustee of a tiny charity I have been advised that, were we to wind up the charity, the Charity Commission would require us to pass the assets to another charity with broadly similar aims. I guess they would prefer the Mabel Luke assets to pass to another almshouse charity (there are several in Newbury) than to the district council.

Sorry, I missed this earlier: is the Charity Commission concerned about the terms of the trust deed and how the trust might dispose of its assets? I can understand that the Charity Commission would take a view on whether the objects of the trust were charitable (so for example the objects of the Greenham Common Control Tower are unlikely to qualify it as a charity, though it can nonetheless operate as a not-for-profit incorporated trust) but other than that the Charity Commission isn't overly bothered about trust law is it?


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blackdog
post May 7 2017, 12:09 PM
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QUOTE (Simon Kirby @ May 7 2017, 09:52 AM) *
I'm not so sure that an Alms house trust will necessarily be a charity.

I've not come across one that isn't - certainly the varuous Newbury trusts are all charities.
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blackdog
post May 7 2017, 12:20 PM
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QUOTE (Simon Kirby @ May 7 2017, 10:01 AM) *
Sorry, I missed this earlier: is the Charity Commission concerned about the terms of the trust deed and how the trust might dispose of its assets? I can understand that the Charity Commission would take a view on whether the objects of the trust were charitable (so for example the objects of the Greenham Common Control Tower are unlikely to qualify it as a charity, though it can nonetheless operate as a not-for-profit incorporated trust) but other than that the Charity Commission isn't overly bothered about trust law is it?

The role of the Charity Commission is as a regulator of charities. In terms of trust deeds I cannot say for sure - I have never been involved in a charitable trust, but, for instance, changes to a charity's constitution have to be approved by them (I have been a trustee of two charities when this has happened).

If a charity folds and has assets then they will need to be satisifed that the assets are used for a purpose that is in line with the aims of the charity.

Back to the subject of this thread - the Mabel Luke Charity - an aspect that hasn't been covered is that they have set up a company to carry out the redevelopment (and carry the inevitable risk in a manner that limits the trustees' liabilites). If they are going to undertake a project of this scale this makes total sense - but it also creates what looks to me a lot more like a housing association rather than an almshouse trust.
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Simon Kirby
post May 7 2017, 01:54 PM
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QUOTE (blackdog @ May 7 2017, 01:20 PM) *
Back to the subject of this thread - the Mabel Luke Charity - an aspect that hasn't been covered is that they have set up a company to carry out the redevelopment (and carry the inevitable risk in a manner that limits the trustees' liabilites). If they are going to undertake a project of this scale this makes total sense - but it also creates what looks to me a lot more like a housing association rather than an almshouse trust.

Yes, it looks quite exotic doesn't it, incorporating a charitable company with another company as its single trustee and all of the old trustees now trustees of the trustee company! However, as I understand it that's how it needs to be done if you're to incorporate an alms house charity because there are rules about a corporate charity directly owning certain kinds of property in trust.

I'm less convinced of the need for the Mable trust to take out a substantial mortgage which, by their begging of the Town Council, it would appear they can't afford. I take your point that the trust may not necessarily be able to gift their existing alms houses, but taking on a new mortgage is entirely separate business and not obviously something that this little trust should be involving itself in.


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spartacus
post May 7 2017, 05:36 PM
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With their begging letter to the Council and the various articles in the NWN over the last months which included how short they were of funds to allow this development to be completed and provided links to their 'justgiving' page you do wonder why there was the need for the demolition to proceed if there weren't the funds there. The houses may (or may not) have been run down but they were still habitable.
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je suis Charlie
post May 7 2017, 06:24 PM
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Didn't have funding for greenham moneysponge cafe either, didn't bother them either.


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