Questions raised in the House of Lords about the forced restructuring of Botton Village as the Action for Botton campaign continues to gain political traction Friday 13 March 2015 PDF Print Following the petition last month presented at Downing St by learning disabled Botton residents and now with over 30 concerned MPs of all colours writing to David Cameron, and other government departments, Baroness Hollins has highlighted the plight of the community at Botton Village with reference to the pervasive mis-application of the Mental Capacity Act in a speech this Tuesday. She said. “The second example is about Botton Village. It is an intentional community where, until recently, all residents and co-workers lived alongside each other as equals, sharing a home. It is said that: “Residents feel needed, valued and respected and it shows”. “The umbrella term used by social services would be ‘shared lives’. However, the model is under threat, with a division being made between those who are considered carers or staff and those being cared for. It appears that financial decisions are driving change without the inclusion of residents in best interest decisions about the future direction of their lives, with many relatives of people who live there being gravely concerned that this loving and inclusive community will be lost, without their individual voices being listened to” “It appears that, after an inspection, Camphill Village Trust, which owns this community, made the decision to change it from a community or family-based organisation to a commercial/institutional model, which the families have perceived as being to the detriment of the inhabitants of Botton Village. In the words of the Welfare Reform Trust, “When did care become a business?” “The intentions of the Mental Capacity Act are not to create an additional layer of bureaucracy and regulation that takes away people’s rights; it is supposed to enhance their rights. I draw particular attention to the more than 1 million people in England living with a learning disability. This is nearly double the number living with dementia, and yet we often think about people with learning disabilities as being a very small group. The point is that a learning disability, by its very nature, is not time limited and will be present their whole lives” Earlier in month when launching the Green Paper consultation, ‘No Voice Unheard, No Right Ignored’, in a BBC interview Norman Lamb relayed that he felt the learning disabled are being ”treated like second-class citizens with decisions being made about them without them being involved and without their families being involved” Meanwhile, Mark Harper, the Minister for Disabled People, is working on behalf of his Forest of Dean constituency which has three CVT centres. The changes have already been forced through at two communities there, but with resistance still being shown at The Grange, where a few Co-workers remain, supported by families of Learning Disabled residents, who wish to retain the Co-worker, shared living arrangements so beneficial to the residents. As well as nationwide support from sitting MPs two local parliamentary candidates at the forthcoming General Election attended the last Action for Botton public meeting in Danby and spoke up in defence of the Co-workers. Labour candidate Ian McInnes commented: “I first visited Botton during the Open Days over 25 years ago. Where there once was peace there is now anxiety. It shouldn't be like this! I have been communicating with Labour's Shadow ministers and they are keen to have an understanding of the issues involved”. He added “Action for Botton, the co-workers, villagers of Botton and local community are all working together in a spirit of solidarity and I am delighted to be able to offer my support.” While Mike Beckett for the Liberal Democrats, said: “Intentional communities are a way of life and any changes to them should be resident-led and not imposed without choice. When you impose something on somebody with learning disabilities without their informed consent, that is classically abuse.” He continued “In addition, the wishes of local people should be taken into account in a consultation which involves a community as important as Botton.” CVT is already under scrutiny with campaigners highlighting serious questions including a worrying lack of transparency in its accounts and, last month, a sudden Trustee resignation citing governance issues including concerns relating to the Articles and Memorandum. In addition, there are claims of harassment being made to local Police and pending actions for compensation by ex-community members who claim to have been bullied out of their communities. Finally a letter before action from campaigners, including parents from one community now devoid of Co-workers, has been issued over potential breaches of the charity’s articles and a form of manipulation of membership before last year’s AGM. With growing political awareness of the issues one wonders how CVT’s Chair of Trustees Felicity Chadwick-Histed, also Partner at Publitas Consulting LLP can continue to ignore the plight of the learning disabled for whom the Trustees are ultimately responsible. Notes to Editors Betrayal of Trust - side panel regarding trust position CVT is a Trust that was originally set up to hold and manage assets which belong to an intentional community and are held in a state of Trust specifically to be administered for the benefit of that community. To put it simply, the set-up is comparable to the way that parents might leave monies ‘in Trust’ for their children and have trustees administer the funds specifically for the benefit of those children. The trustees have a duty of care to make sure that any money is used in the way the Trust says and the trustees MUST make sure this happens. The Camphill community at Botton consists of both learning disabled residents and the Co-worker families who together create the community. The community includes people of all ages from children to pensioners. The trustees are given very clear instructions as to how the community should be run particularly about shared living and the support being given freely and not brought in exclusively by employees. The community managed its own affairs and choices internally. Instead of holding the assets and administering the finances as they are supposed to, the Trust secretly decided to get rid of the volunteers and stop shared living. Effectively it therefore attacked the beneficiary (the community) and is presently trying to evict community members from the site when it should be supporting them. This is the equivalent of the trustees of a child’s Trust ignoring what the parents wanted and using the money for something else entirely different. Effectively by, as it were, evicting that child from the family home and by multiple different means trying to prevent the child from benefiting from the Trust Fund whilst disposing of the funds in a manner that is detrimental to the child. Senior barristers now say that the actions of CVT mean that the Trustees are in breach of trust and acting outside their authority. Specifically they have no authority to evict any community member from their homes which are community assets to be used for the benefit of the community. The trustees appear oblivious to their potential liability as they are personally liable for the conduct of the Trust. They are called "Trustees" because they are trusted to behave properly. Interviewees Please contact the press office if you would like an interview with any of a wide range of stakeholders including; Campaigners from Action for Botton including the chair Co-workers (anonymously) and former Co-workers Legal experts Accounting experts Parents and family members of the residents Learning disabled residents CVTs False Claims to the Press Recently CVT has been making a number of false and misleading claims to members of the press, we should like to set the record straight; Misleading Claims re HMRC and Tax False claims about HMRC's position on Tax. CVT has deliberately sought to convert Co-workers into employees and has made false claims in order to do this, initially claiming that it was necessary to do this due to changes in tax law, which it now agree is untrue. Furthermore CVT could easily support and facilitate the Co-worker tax model if it chose to - something HMRC has made completely clear in correspondence; 1. In short, there is a technical document which sets out how to determine a vocational co-worker’s income which is then subject to taxation, which can be viewed on the HMRC website (BIM22040). This is still valid as confirmed by the Treasury and HMRC in writing only a few months ago. 2. Many other Camphill communities in the UK, outside CVT, operate the normal vocational Co-worker model, where the community clearly is allowed to continue to exist, perfectly satisfactorily in line with this taxation document. 3. CVT, however, knowingly undermined the existence of community by enforcing changes that it did not have to make - this was its choice and strategy and by ceasing to recognise the communities as separate from the charity and Co-workers as living and working within the community, it has deliberately changed the facts on the ground to eliminate the vocational position. i.e. it is CVT’s choice to try and force employment on the Co-workers 4. CVT stated it wished to employ all Co-workers from 6th April. It produced information which failed to acknowledge the existence of a community and regarded vocational Co-workers as “engaged” as employees. The vocational co-worker would not have any contractual relationship with the charity or indeed the community in which they live and work. HMRC's website states that "Co-workers assist the vulnerable members within each community, living together in houses, sharing money and making joint decisions.” 5. It is misleading to state that CVT would be fined in these circumstances. The “fine” being referred to is the difference the HMRC might seek to recover from the charity if the Co-workers were deemed to be employed by the charity by HMRC in a challenged “engagement” investigation. So yes they could technically be fined and or income tax collected on the deemed employment of Co-workers if HMRC deemed this to be the case in a challenged investigation. This is not the case as the HMRC is clearly stating that CVT “the engager” is stating that they intend to employ - it was not the HMRC who dictated the nature of the “engagement”. 6. Co-workers are not engaged in tax avoidance. 7. HMRC has confirmed that they are presently reviewing their opinion in light of new information supplied to them that CVT selectively did not supply them before their initial opinion was rendered. A detailed breakdown plus supporting documentation of these can be viewed on the Action for Botton site. Claims about Shared living At no time has CVT ever mentioned to Co-workers, residents or their families that the offered traditional Camphill shared life model is an option going forward. On the contrary managers and trustees have always stated to all stakeholders and the press that this would never be possible for employees, whether former Co-workers or otherwise - they would not be allowed to live in the same households as the learning disabled as a matter of statute; this was emphasised strongly in their correspondence. After the unsuccessful mediated dialogue last December, the CVT CEO did say that he would set up a workshop to explore the possibilities for shared living and invite guidance from an outside group (“Shared Lives”), however, even though he suggested a date for this of Feb 10th the meeting was never held. We are therefore extremely surprised that in recent press statements a ‘spokesperson’ for CVT claimed this was a possibility, however we have no evidence that this claim is true. Residents being upset Claims made by CVT regarding the learning disabled being upset are misleading, they are upset precisely because of CVT's actions for three reasons: 1. firstly because they are not being listened to, their clearly stated opinions are being ignored and 2. secondly because CVT has made reported and very underhanded attempts to gag them and prevent them speaking about their objections to the changes. These attempts include failure to acknowledge their capacity under the mental Capacity Act and banning the press from coming into the homes of the residents when they have been invited by residents and where the residents are lawful tenants. This is a breach of their right to free speech: they are entitled to speak about things they object to and find upsetting. 3. the learning disabled residents know that CVT plans to segregate them from their Co-worker families. The cause of their upset is CVT’s actions, not the fact that they are able to speak freely about being upset. Action for Botton has facilitated the learning disabled being heard by the media which they have found very empowering and are deeply grateful that someone at last wants to help them. CVT are being disingenuous in accusing Co-workers of spreading misinformation amongst villagers; please see an analysis that shows how it is in fact CVT that subtly but systematically misleads the most vulnerable in their care. We urge readers to read this example of CVT's deception campaign in the following link and consider how this contrasts with CVT's mantra of 'the beneficiaries at the heart of all we do'. http://bit.ly/1BdxrD3 Laws campaigners say CVT have breached Human Rights Act Mental Capacity Act Harassment Act Companies Act Charity Commission regulations Links to additional information Example of support messages for the campaign and communications; Families writing to Camphill Village Trust and to North Yorkshire County Council many more letters from families and friends of Botton to CVT Recent Coverage can be viewed here http://www.actionforbotton.org/Publications/newspaper-articl... http://www.actionforbotton.org/Publications/audio-and-video Independent report that outlines the devastating effects of these changes on other CVT communities. The unintentional destruction of intentional communities by Bob Rhodes and Richard Davis, published in March 2014. It is available at; http://www.centreforwelfarereform.org/library/by-az/regulati... How bureaucrats destroy public services http://tinyurl.com/k56k37p Guidelines about care of the learning disabled can be viewed here http://tinyurl.com/kmj54e6 or https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachm... About Camphill Botton Village The Camphill Movement was started over seventy years ago by German/Austrian Jews fleeing from the Nazis at a time of great persecution of the disabled. They did this to give learning disabled adults the chance 1. to live closely with the land and in a beneficial environment, 2. to live in a community where all are equal, irrespective of their abilities 3. to have a meaningful and fulfilling working life CVT was founded in October 1954 to support the first adult community of Botton Village, which was started by Villagers, their families and volunteer Co-workers as an ‘intentional community' in 1955. The formation articles of incorporation expressly specify that the charity's purpose is to establish a community into which the disabled can be incorporated in order that their lives be fulfilled according to the above principles. http://www.actionforbotton.org/files/CVT_Mem__Arts_highlight... The community was therefore formed to include and support people with a wide range of disabilities. Those with learning disabilities live with the volunteer (unwaged) Co-worker families in shared family-like households so that they can each be supported to participate in all aspects of community life including fulfilling and meaningful work. http://www.actionforbotton.org/Botton-Village/living-togethe... Fundamental to the movement is sustainable farming, and as a result CVT has grown to be the single largest holder of bio-dynamically farmed land in the UK with Botton in particular winning awards. http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/local-news/honour-for-bott... The entire community shares all the work in running the sustainable community, according to their abilities and wishes and for the benefit of all. Everyone agrees to these principles when they join the village. The result of this has set a world-leading standard in terms of community living, with Botton village famously leading the way in sustainability. The community has been based for the last sixty years on vocational volunteer Co-workers receiving no salary, living modestly, pooling resources, having their needs met by the community. http://www.actionforbotton.org/files/Three_Perspectives.pdf Since its foundation, the Village has been widely recognised as an exemplar of a sustainable, inclusive community and has been much copied, inspiring over a hundred communities of the Camphill movement world-wide - 75 separate Camphill Communities worldwide and 36 in the British Isles, nine of which are currently CVT communities that grew out of the original site at Botton. Popular for its caring and inclusive values, Botton Village has attracted generous donations and support from the public over the years with supporters keen to make sure that this unique way of life is continued. The original property owned by the charity was offered by the Macmillan (publishing) family, and/or built, bought and/or renovated with the help of donations intended for the purpose of supporting the remarkable community that is Botton that donors know, admire and are keen to support. Four years ago the appointment of a new management team at CVT heralded a catastrophic departure from Botton's founding structure and values, with management making repeated attempts to undermine the ethos and core caring principles of Camphill and ignoring the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the charity. Links to more details on this are below; http://www.actionforbotton.org/Hijacking-a-charity http://www.actionforbotton.org/files/Summary_of_alleged_abus... About Action for Botton Pressure group Action for Botton has been set-up by stakeholders including friends, families, former Co-workers and Co-workers to oppose these changes and enjoys the support of 84 Botton parents and family members the majority of the 95 learning disabled residents at Botton as well as over 5,000 supporters locally and worldwide. In December 2014 representatives of the group entered into mediation talks with Camphill Village Trust in a bid to find common ground over the planned changes. Despite several deadline extensions, reassurances from CVT about halting the changes whilst talks were in progress were not forthcoming and the talks did not progress and since then Action for Botton - along with other Camphill communities at Delrow (near Watford) and the Grange (Newnham-on-Severn) have vowed that they will continue their campaign. For further information see www.actionforbotton.org and http://www.actionforbotton.org/files/Camphill_Values_v2.2_sh... Contact Information Action for Botton Neil Davidson – Chair Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Press National Kay Clark Tel: 0845 833 8292 Email: email@example.com Regional Richard Graham Tel: 01765 640736 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Action for Botton in the following categories: Health, Business & Finance, Public Sector, Third Sector & Legal, for more information visit http://pressreleasewire.responsesource.com/about.