Charity that owed more than £350k to HMRC closes

Joshua's Wish, which provided holidays for children with cancer, goes into administration because of major debt incurred after it mistakenly over-claimed Gift Aid

A Wales-based children’s charity that owed HM Revenue & Customs more than £350,000 in overpaid Gift Aid has gone into administration.

Joshua’s Wish, formerly known as the Joshua Foundation, provided holidays and experiences for children and young adults with cancer.

The charity announced on Tuesday that it would be closing. It said on its Twitter feed: "We have today instructed insolvency practitioners and the office is now closed. All emails, phones, etc have ceased and the website is down."

In January it was revealed that the charity owed £356,789 to HMRC after it over-claimed on Gift Aid.

The charity, which had an income of £428,000 in the financial year to September 2011, had mistakenly over-claimed Gift Aid worth £426,000 over a period of seven years.

The debt has been on the charity’s books since 2003 and was connected with its flagship Oz Experience programme, which provided trips to Australia for sick children and raised funds for the foundation.

Sarah Cornelius-Price, president of the foundation, told Third Sector in January that it had been waiving its Gift Aid claims of about £25,000 a year for four years to help pay off the debt.

The BBC reported that 60 young people who had raised funds for a trip to Australia organised by the charity would be left out of pocket by its closure. Burton Sweet Corporate Recovery, the insolvency practitioners working with the charity, was unable to comment in time for publication.

Third Sector was unable to contact anybody from the charity. Cornelius-Price said on her Twitter feed: "I am unable to comment on the closure of Joshua's Wish - the insolvency people are the only ones who can help."

A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said the regulator had been told about the charity’s decision to close. She said that if any assets were left after the insolvency practitioners had paid the charity’s debts and liabilities, they should be put towards meeting the Joshua’s Wish’s charitable purposes.

"Once the insolvency practitioners have completed the winding up of the charity, the commission must be informed and the charity will then be removed from the register," she said.

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