The Charity Commission has turned down an application from the Countryside Alliance to register as a charity claiming it is "not established for exclusively charitable purposes for the public benefit"
The Commission commented: “Certain purposes of the Alliance relate to preserving, protecting and promoting the heritage and practice of activities related to wildlife, the countryside and wildlife management including hunting, shooting and fishing together with the management of the natural environment; and the advancement of rural community life.
“These do not fall within a description of purpose which is recognised in law as being a purpose which may be charitable.”
Countryside Alliance criticised for promoting activities and points of view
The report continues: “In relation to the promotion of game or game production, it appears to the Commission that the primary result of the furtherance of this purpose is private benefit accruing to those commercially involved in the production of game for eating. Further, some of the research published by the Alliance appears to be promoting particular activities or points of view rather than being balanced educational research and the concept of relieving need ‘in relation to rural economies’ generally is too wide to be exclusively charitable.
“Some of the Alliance’s purposes are charitable, and the Commission recognises that the Alliance does important work protecting and promoting rural life and representing the interests of people living and working in the countryside from all backgrounds and geographical locations…”
The birds love our #sanctuary land, especially the local #pheasants and #buzzards as unlike at the neighbouring shooting estates, they can live free from fear that they will be shot from the #sky #britishwildlife #wildlifephoto #wildlifephotography #wildlifephotos #sanctuary #wildlife #birds #birdsofinstagram #birdofprey #leagueagainstcruelsports
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League Against Cruel Sports awarded charitable status
It is interesting to note that the League Against Cruel Sports, which is vociferous in promoting its “points of view” has charitable status, as indeed do many elite public schools, such as Harrow.
Countryside Alliance response
“The Countryside Alliance is disappointed that, whilst the Charity Commission recognises the important work we do protecting and promoting rural life and representing the interests of people living and working in the countryside from all backgrounds, it does not believe that it is possible to bring such work within the legal definition of a charity. Our legal advisors interpreted the law very differently, but if the Charity Commission is correct it exposes a fundamental problem with charity legislation.
“It cannot be right that the law discriminates against activities which clearly should be charitable and which the Charity Commission itself recognises as important work which is beneficial to society, whilst bestowing the advantages of charitable status on activities which have far less public benefit. We will consider an appeal in order to clarify the law.”
Praise for the Countryside Alliance from the Environment Secretary
The Countryside Alliance Awards, nicknamed “The Rural Oscars” are held annually to reward small hard-working businesses and celebrate rural produce, skills, enterprise and heritage.
At this year’s Awards event in the House of Lords, the Environment Secretary told the assembled rural businessmen and women: “Rural businesses are not just the beating heart of our countryside – they are also a vital part of the UK’s economy, generating almost £230 billion every year. I’m really pleased the Countryside Alliance is honouring some of these hard working businesses and ensuring they get the recognition they deserve. Today’s winners and nominees represent the very best of Rural Britain and I’m delighted to celebrate the crucial role our post offices, farm shops and food start-ups play in connecting communities across the country.”
Why is charitable status important?
- income or corporation tax on some types of income
- capital gains tax
- stamp duty
- inheritance tax on gifts made in wills
In addition charities can get special VAT treatment and pay a maximum of 20% of normal business rates on occupied buildings.