Law firm picks up Caritas Anchor House’s £1m VAT case pro bono

PUBLISHED: 08:00 28 November 2015

Caritas Anchor House boss Keith Fernett on the contstruction site of the charity's planned

Caritas Anchor House boss Keith Fernett on the contstruction site of the charity's planned "move on" flats for the homeless


An international law firm has agreed to help out embattled homelessness charity Caritas Anchor House after it was hit with a £1m VAT bill earlier this year.

A £1million VAT bill has threatened the construction of the flats in Canning Town A £1million VAT bill has threatened the construction of the flats in Canning Town

The significant sum was called in by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) after it changed the charity’s status from a homeless hostel to a residential and life skills centre.

It came as the Canning Town group began construction on flats to help homeless people get off the streets. Charity bosses claimed they were originally quoted £250,000 in VAT for the development and accused the government of an “assault” on the charity sector.

Law firm Simmons and Simmons has agreed to take up the case against HMRC pro bono as part of their access to justice scheme. Sam Grodzinski QC of Blackstone Chambers is also working on the litigation pro bono.

The VAT bill, which the law firm warns could rise to as much as £1.5million, has put the construction of the “move on” flats at risk.

Partner and head of contentious tax, Nick Skerrett, said: “This situation poses a serious threat to [the charity’s] services which provide enormous benefits to society and the areas in which we work.

“Through our dedicated commitment to providing access to justice to those who are most in need, we fully support Caritas Anchor House in their appeal of this application.”

Keith Fernett, chief executive of Caritas Anchor House, said: We believe we’re being unreasonably penalised for treating our clients with respect and that HMRC is not taking a balanced view of the work we do.

He added: “We have worked incredibly hard to deliver a level of service with a reliance on donations and relatively little government funding.

“We hope the team at Simmons and Simmons can reverse HMRC’s decision and allow us to continue making a huge difference to people’s lives. Otherwise our work is at risk and local authority services will be put under greater pressure.”


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Newham Recorder visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Newham Recorder staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Newham Recorder account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Newham News Stories

An Islamic State-inspired terrorist plotted attacks in the UK on a range of targets including Big Ben and the Queen’s Guard, a court heard.

Transport for London

A frail cancer patient who was badly beaten by thugs in East Ham has died more than four months after the attack.


Medical failings stretching back more than two decades cost the NHS trust which runs Newham University Hospital tens of millions of pounds a year.

Newham University Hospital
Yesterday, 18:17

A primary school in East Ham has banned pupils under the age of eight from wearing hijabs and encouraged parents not to make their children fast on school days.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read news

Show Job Lists


Having a brand new kitchen is something that lots of people want but can only dream of. Sadly keeping up to date and making our living spaces as nice as they can be is a costly and incredibly stressful business. Even a fresh coat of paint makes all the difference but isn’t easy or quick.

Read more

Who wouldn’t love the chance to go on a shopping spree. Imagine being able to walk into a shop and choose whatever your heart desires without having to worry about how much it costs.

Read more

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Newham Recorder
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now