Residents fighting for the future of an east London homeless charity have today (October 16) presented a petition to Downing Street.

Residents of Caritas Anchor House in Canning Town took their petition to the Prime Minister to take action over an unexpected VAT bill that the charity said would threaten services for vulnerable people in one of the UK’s most deprived areas.

Also online: Newham charity says homeless at risk after surprise £1million VAT bill

The residents were joined by the charity’s chief executive Keith Fernett when presenting the petition signed by more than 100 of its service users, calling for intervention to halt an unexpected VAT bill of £1million.

The bill on the development of accommodation for homeless people was incurred after HMRC reviewed the charity’s VAT status, before deciding it could no longer reclaim VAT incurred on the building project.

Caritas Anchor House had previously been advised that VAT due on the development would be in the region of £250,000.

Keith Fernett said: “We’ve presented this petition to Downing Street in the hope it will alert the highest levels of government to the tragedy that is about to ensue. HMRC’s heavy-handed approach shows no understanding of what we do, and the consequences if they continue to demand the VAT they believe is due.

“No-one will win if HMRC continues to pursue this matter. Vulnerable people will put at needless risk. Local authority services will put under even greater pressure.

“We urge the Prime Minister and the Government to heed this petition and take action before it’s too late.”

HMRC has previously told The Wharf it does not discuss individual cases.