No application received for a Downing Street refurbishment charity, regulator says

Revelations in March alleged that the Conservatives were attempting to set up a charity that could cover the costs of a makeover to the Prime Minister's residence

Boris Johnson in Downing Street last week (Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Boris Johnson in Downing Street last week (Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The Charity Commission has said it has not received an application to register a charity with the aim of refurbishing the Prime Minister’s residence, as pressure mounts on Boris Johnson to reveal how he paid for the overhaul of the property.

Government ministers were forced to defend Johnson over the weekend and insisted that he had paid for the revamp of his official residence out of his own pocket, but could not confirm where he had got the money.

A blog post by his former senior adviser, Dominic Cummings, at the end of last week claimed Johnson told him of a plan to “have donors secretly pay for the renovation” to the No 11 flat where he lives with his fiancée, Carrie Symonds, and thier son Wilfred.

Cummings said the plan was “unethical, foolish, possibly illegal and almost certainly broke the rules on proper disclosure of political donations”.

Reports suggest the Electoral Commission is also looking into the matter.

Allegations emerged in March that the Conservatives were attempting to set up a charity that could cover the costs of the renovation, believed to be in the region of £200,000.

Private donors would be able to donate to the charity, which would then be used for the upkeep of the Downing Street buildings – including other parts of the property such as the State Dining Room.

But the Charity Commission told Third Sector yesterday that it had still not received an application from an organisation or individual for any such purpose.

In a previous statement, the regulator said the test of charitable status in England and Wales was a legal one and a charity was an organisation with exclusively charitable purposes for the public benefit.

The commission said it did not grant charitable status, but decided if an organisation met the relevant legal tests when determining whether or not to enter it onto the register of charities.

It would not comment hypothetically on organisations whose charitable status had not yet been assessed or determined.

A Charity Commission spokesperson said: “We scrutinise all applications carefully against a clear legal framework, set by Parliament.”

A Number 10 spokesperson previously stated that the refurbishment of the Downing Street estate, including the residences, would be covered in the Cabinet Office annual report and accounts.

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