Charities including the Professional Footballers' Association Benevolent Fund, the Royal Bank of Scotland Group Benevolent Fund and the British Airways Welfare and Benevolent Fund have been given a formal role in the forthcoming hearing on whether benevolent funds provide sufficient public benefit.
The charity tribunal announced this week that it would hold a four-day hearing on the issue in November.
The hearing was arranged after Dominic Grieve, the Attorney-General, submitted a reference asking the tribunal to clarify the law in this area.
Six charities, listed below, have been joined as parties to the hearing, and a further 17, also listed below, have been given a role as ‘intervenors’, which allows them to submit written evidence.
The reference was made after the Charity Commission said the law was unclear about whether charities that provided benefits to only a group of people defined by a link to an individual person, a company or an association were doing enough to meet the requirement that all charities must provide a public benefit.
A letter to the tribunal from Kenneth Dibble, executive director of legal services at the Charity Commission, published this week, says the commission believes benevolent charities whose beneficiaries are nurses or work for the police or emergency services should be treated differently from other benevolent charities.
The letter says that in these cases "the existence of the fund is likely to be furthering the purpose of promoting the efficiency of the police, fire and rescue services or ambulance services and the class to which it provides assistance is an appropriate class for such a charity to operate for the public benefit.
"With regard to the nurse funds, it may be that these are outside the remit [of the reference] because the purpose could be considered to be either advancement of health or the promotion of the effective application of resources for charitable purposes."
The Attorney General’s reference, which was made at the end of 2010, cites Charity Commission figures showing there are 1,368 charities for the relief of poverty whose benefits are restricted to members of an organisation, of which 1,204 are Masonic charities. The United Grand Lodge of England, which represents Freemasons, is an intervenor in the case.
It also says there are 135 charities that benefit those employed by a single employer, 20 that benefit past or present pupils of a particular school and two that benefit residents of particular care homes.
In 2003, it says, there were at least 16 charities for the relief of poverty among the relations of a single person.
The reference says the commission has five applications for registration that it cannot determine without a ruling from the tribunal.
The case will be heard in London from 14 November.
Parties to the case
- The British Airways Welfare and Benevolent Fund
- The Chartered Accountants’ Benevolent Fund
- The National Westminster Staff Foundation (aka RBS Care Homes Foundation)
- The PFA Benevolent Fund
- Reuters Centenary Fund
- The Royal Bank of Scotland Group Benevolent Fund
- Alfred Simmons Benevolent Fund
- The Ambulance Hardship Fund
- The Association of Charity Officers
- Barclays International Pensioners’ Club Benevolent Fund
- The Barclays Overseas Benevolent Fund
- The Benevolent Fund for the National Association of Group Secretaries of the Farmers’ Unions of England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland (NAGS Fund)
- The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals Benevolent Fund
- The Institute of Plant Engineers Benevolent Fund
- The John Laing Charitable Trust
- Kings College Hospital Nurses’ League Benevolent Fund
- Middlesex Hospital Nurses’ Benevolent Fund
- The Police Federation of England and Wales
- The Spread Eagle Foundation
- The TSB Staff Benevolent Fund
- Unison Welfare
- United Grand Lodge of England
- The University College Hospital London Nurses’ league (Dora Finch and Barbara Yule Benevolent Fund Trust)