By Keith Marley.
Well done Aberdeenshire Council! Today, what little assistance you give to local charities was withdrawn. Today you implemented the changes governing charity shops which gave them a ‘discretionary’ 20% relief on their rates. Dated 20/04/16, the letter we received today informed us that as from 01/04/16 charity shops will no longer receive the discretionary 20% discretionary ‘top up’.
For the 30 charity shops in the Aberdeenshire Council area this means the council will raise an additional £32,650.00 in revenue from these good causes.
This was agreed by the Councils Policy and Resources committee last year at a meeting which also approved the previous year’s totals for expenditure and financing of £147,876,000 and £66,648,000. The same meeting which gave the nod to approve the purchase of winter salt supplies for the next 3 years totalling some £8,000,000.00.
But obviously charity shops and the charities they support have been scrutinised and obviously found to be not paying their fair share.
With 3 shops and a store The New Arc represents almost 10% of this additional revenue….or as we see it, ‘penalty’. The fact that the charity gets calls from various council departments seeking advice and practical help with wildlife and domestic pets doesn’t cost the council anything. The work placements we provide for school leavers doesn’t cost the council anything.
The assistance we give with council funded projects, back to work schemes, mental health schemes, young (and old) offenders, disadvantaged kids, college placements, school talks etc. doesn’t cost the council anything.
The fact that these 30 charity shops mainly occupy what would otherwise be long term empty buildings DOES provide money to the regional council. The fact that these shops pay the full rate for their insurance, water rates, rubbish bins, electricity just the same as any other business DOES provide income to the local economy.
The fact that some of these shops also employ staff, full time and part time DOES mean we are contributing to the local economy. The fact that these shops are in many cases a necessity for low income and unemployed families DOES make a difference.
Many of these shops run at a very low profit margin and along with the new minimum wage, provision of pension schemes and these additional costs their future may well be in doubt.
The closure of any of these charity shops means a knock on effect which will have repercussions on the charity itself meaning withdrawal of services, reduced capacity, and ultimately it is the council itself that will have to find the funds to provide the services which charities currently do for free.
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