Canning Town homeless charity calls for help over £1million VAT bill

Members of Caritas Anchor House hand in petition to Downing Street

Members of Caritas Anchor House hand in petition to Downing Street - Credit: Archant

Residents of a homeless charity have presented a petition to Downing Street after the organisation was hit with a £1million VAT bill.

Caritas Anchor House, in Barking Road, Canning Town, recently received the hefty bill when Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) reviewed the description of the charity’s services, and changed its status from “homeless hostel” to a “residential and life skills centre”.

The change of status came after the charity began working on their new development project which includes a construction of 25 new “move on” flats.

The petition, signed by more than 100 people, was handed into Downing Street earlier today and is calling on the government to “halt” the unexpected bill.

Keith Fernett, Chief Executive of Caritas Anchor House, said: “We’ve presented this petition to Downing Street in the hope it will alert the highest levels of government to the tragedy that is about to ensue. HMRC’s heavy-handed approach shows no understanding of what we do, and the consequences if they continue to demand the VAT they believe is due.

“No-one will win if HMRC continues to pursue this matter. Vulnerable people will put at needless risk. Local authority services will put under even greater pressure. We urge the Prime Minister and the Government to heed this petition and take action before it’s too late.”

Caritas Anchor House said they had previously been advised that VAT due on the development would be in the region of £250,000.

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A spokesman for HMRC said they do not comment on individual cases but explained support is available.

He added: “VAT status is a matter of law, determined by the nature and activities of the individual organisation.

“Although the tax payable in law has to be paid, we will always provide practical support and advice when approached. Time to pay arrangements may be available for those with payment problems and anyone in this position should talk to us as soon as they can so we can do everything possible to help.”

The charity provides accommodation to more than 230 homeless adults a year as well as support services to members of the local community.

For more information on the charity, visit: