Most London charities have no strategic property plans, research finds

The first London Charity Property Matters Survey also says that more than half of them do not regularly report to trustees about property

(Photograph: Getty Images)
(Photograph: Getty Images)

Most charities in London don't have proper plans in place for property despite the increasing costs of renting and buying in the capital, a new survey has found.

The first London Charity Property Matters Survey, carried out by the Ethical Property Foundation in partnership with the Charity Finance Group and published today, says that 68 per cent of London charities do not have strategic property plans.

And more than half of London charities surveyed do not regularly report on property to trustees, compared with 44 per cent of charities in the rest of England and Wales.

The survey found that 51 per cent of charities in the capital did not carry out regular risk assessments on their properties, and the same proportion of respondents said that no one was specifically responsible for property in their charity.

More than a third of London charities said they did not keep complete records of the property they own or rent, the report says.

Exposure of this lack of planning comes at a time when property costs are significant for many London-based charities, the report says, with 24 per cent of the charities surveyed saying they had experienced unforeseen property costs and another 19 per cent anticipating they would experience them.

More than 16 per cent of respondents said that £2 of every £10 spent by their charity was on property costs.

Charities in London were found to be more likely to rent from private or commercial landlords, with 40 per cent of respondents to the survey claiming to have done so, compared with 33 per cent in the rest of England and Wales.

Antonia Swinson, chief executive of the Ethical Property Foundation, said: "As London’s boroughs move towards more commercial rents, so we are seeing a shift towards renting from the private sector and problems finding funding to cover core costs.

"These results are a wake-up call: property is not an extra but is a vital part of delivering social mission."

Earlier this month, the fourth biennial Charity Property Matters Survey, which is also carried out by the Ethical Property Foundation in partnership with the Charity Commission and the CFG, said that more than a third of charities across England and Wales believed property posed a high or very high risk to their organisation.

But despite the concerns, about two-thirds of charities did not have strategic property plans, said this survey – 14 percentage points higher than the previous year.

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