Tennis club accepts Charity Commission ruling on its public benefit

Acting chair of Radlett Lawn Tennis and Squash Club says she is not surprised to be told it doesn't do enough for those who can't afford the fees

Charity Commission
Charity Commission

The acting chair of Radlett Lawn Tennis and Squash Club, which has been told by the Charity Commission that it does not provide sufficient public benefit to justify its charitable status, has said she is not surprised by the commission's verdict and will comply with its requirements.

In a report published earlier this week, the Charity Commission said the Hertfordshire-based charity did not make enough of its facilities available to those who could not afford to pay its fees, which total £339 a year for full adult membership.

Jackie Underwood, acting chair of the charity, told Third Sector: "When we completed our report to the Charity Commission, I thought we were borderline. We do some outreach work, but I had a feeling we might be found not to be doing enough."

She said the reason the charity had not made its facilities more accessible in the past was that it had not been asked to do so. "When we registered as a charity in 2007, the public benefit rules were not being focused on in the way they have been since then," she said.

"The commission's guidance actually made it clear that you could still be charitable if you charged fees. We haven't changed the way we operate since 2007 and our work was obviously acceptable to the commission then."

Underwood said the charity had been registered as a community amateur sports club before it registered with the commission, but had found that charitable status allowed it to attract grants it would not have otherwise won.

"We do want to keep our charitable status, so we will look at how we can work with the commission," she added.

This could involve creating extra membership categories for those on low incomes, or cheap off-peak membership, and arranging for coaches to provide low-cost training, she said.

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