Homeless charity Caritas Anchor House has received support from a London Mayoral candidate.
The beleaguered Canning Town organisation was hit with a £1million VAT bill by HMRC, and has warned it would struggle to pay it should it come through.
Many have added to the calls for the tax man to drop the bill, and now Green Party London mayoral candidate Sian Berry has called on leniency from HMRC following a visit to the charity in Canning Town.
Ms Berry met with Caritas Anchor House chief executive Keith Fernett, along with the charity’s residents, during a visit on Tuesday, December 1.
Caritas Anchor House is currently appealing the decision by HMRC to charge an additional £1 million in VAT on the development of accommodation.
Green Party candidate for London Mayor Sian Berry said: “Having visited Caritas Anchor House today and seen the valuable work it does for vulnerable people in one of east London’s most deprived areas, I think the charity is quite right to appeal against the levy of an additional £1 million in VAT.
“Aside from the fact that HMRC’s attitude seems unnecessarily heartless, in pure financial terms it makes no sense either: if we make it harder for charities to do what they do best and help the people most in need, the eventual cost in public services will be all the greater.”
The charity claims it had been advised its VAT liability would be in the region of £250,000, but have since been informed that it can no longer reclaim VAT on the building project.
Caritas Anchor House has insisted the project does not alter its service provisions, and warned the additional charges will put its support for homeless and vulnerable people in jeopardy.
The charity provides accommodation for more than 230 homeless adults a year in Canning Town , while also providing specialist support for at-risk groups within the local community.
Chief executive of Caritas Anchor House Keith Fernett said: “We’re working with some of the most vulnerable people in our community. We’re grateful to Ms Berry taking the time to visit us. It’s important that the potential leaders of our capital see not only the scale of deprivation that still exists in London, but also the fantastic work being done to help those most in need.
“We’re continuing to engage very constructively with HMRC and are very hopeful that a solution can be reached that suits all parties and enables us to continue our work.”
HMRC has previously told The Wharf it does not discuss individual cases.