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21 November 2018

Increasing number of London charities fear property poses risks to their charitable mission.

Austerity sees shift from local authority landlords to commercial rents.

Low levels of property knowledge are a challenge for London trustees.

Today the findings of the first London Charity Property Matters Survey are published by the Ethical Property Foundation, in partnership with Charity Finance Group thanks to funding from the City of London Corporation’s charitable funder, City Bridge Trust. The findings show that:

  • 68% of London charities do not have a strategic property plan.
  • 51% say no-one is specifically responsible for property within their organisation, 9% higher compared to the rest of England and Wales.
  • 24% have experienced and 19% anticipate they will experience unforeseen property costs.
  • 53% of London charities surveyed do not report regularly on property to trustees, compared to 44% across the whole of England and Wales, highlighting the additional pressures the sector faces in the capital.
  • Over half London charities (51%) do not carry out regular risk assessments on their property, a significant 10% difference compared to the 61% of charities in England & Wales which complete regular risk assessments.
  • 36% of London charities do not keep complete records of the property they own or rent.

Antonia Swinson, CEO Ethical Property Foundation said: “The findings reflect the reality of our growing client caseload. 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.”

Alderman Alison Gowman, Chair City Bridge Trust said: “City Bridge Trust has been a long-standing supporter of the Ethical Property Foundation’s excellent property advice service in London. This is the first time they have applied their outstanding knowledge of London’s voluntary sector to new research and the results will be of use to everyone with an interest in seeing our dynamic voluntary sector thrive despite the challenging times.”

Caron Bradshaw, Chief Executive Charity Finance Group said: “Our London members tell us that property continues to be an important issue for the charity sector, which is why we have collaborated with the Ethical Property Foundation in delivering this survey and publishing the report. This is an important document for London’s voluntary sector - essential reading for charities, grant-makers, trustees and policy makers.”

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