Regulator yet to receive application for charity to fund 'Downing Street makeover', despite reports

Newspaper reports say the Prime Minister has been considering trying to register a charitable organisation that could take donations to pay for the redecoration of his official residence

10 Downing Street (Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
10 Downing Street (Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

The Charity Commission has not yet received any applications for a charity to maintain 10 Downing Street, despite reports that the Prime Minister was backing the move. 

Several newspapers reported today that Downing Street was attempting to set up a charity that could cover the costs of a makeover of Boris Johnson’s residence, which he shares with his fiancée, Carrie Symonds.

Reports say Symonds has undertaken a costly redecoration of the couple’s flat, while Johnson has joked with colleagues about the spiralling costs of the work.

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

The Guardian said this was to present the controversial idea of the charity having a wider heritage purpose, so it could meet requirements set out in charitable law. 

But the Charity Commission said it had not received an application from an organisation or individual for any such purpose.

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 does not grant charitable status, but decides if an organisation meets 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 spokeswoman said: “The commission has not, at this point, received an application from any organisation with aims to preserve or maintain Downing Street. 

“We scrutinise all applications carefully against a clear legal framework, set by parliament.”

Asked to comment on the case, a Number 10 spokesperson said: "The Downing Street complex is a working building, as well as containing two ministerial residences.

"As has been the case under successive administrations, refurbishments and maintenance are made periodically.

“Matters concerning works on the Downing Street estate, including the residences, are covered in the Cabinet Office annual report and accounts."

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