Campaigners are alleging that Camphill Village Trust’s (CVT) insurance cover has to be hastily re-arranged.
For years the insurance provision for all Camphill charities in the UK has been arranged by the Camphill Insurance Agency (-CIA– which was set up by the Association of Camphill Communities - the AoCC). This month, however Camphill’s insurance broker has separated the insurance of non-CVT communities from CVT in order to sustain the beneficial premium rate for those other insured members in the remainder of the Association’s membership.
Going forward the premiums for the separate CVT insurance arrangements will be calculated on the Claims Experience that has been generated from the activities of CVT as a separate entity.
AoCC members benefit from favourable premiums and terms provided by Ecclesiastical Insurance due to the vocational, volunteer composition of the communities and the highly ethical nature of the Camphill ethos, an ethos noticeably lacking in the conduct of CVT management of late.
CVT has carried out root and branch changes to the organisation including the controversial policies of forcing volunteer workers to become employees, on a variety of pretexts, and segregating the learning disabled from their Co-worker families against their express wishes and needs, coupled with the dismantling of their proven traditional self-governing model.
These moves have caused a worldwide storm of protest from the international Camphill movement and stakeholders and not least from the charity’s beneficiaries, the vulnerable learning-disabled residents of its communities. Three campaign groups at different CVT communities – Botton near Whitby, Delrow near Watford and the Grange at Newnham-on-Severn - oppose these fundamental changes, with the residents even presenting their own petition this week at 10 Downing St to express their opposition.
The insurance market in general terms is increasing Liability Ratings in view of adverse Claims Experience relating to Abuse allegations and Medical Malpractice incidents. Given the number and diversity of the ongoing legal issues and tribunal actions mounting against CVT, and their reduced purchasing power now they are separated from the AoCC Insurance Programme it will be interesting to see how their insurance could be replaced in a like-for-like arrangement without significant increase in premium.
CVT is already under scrutiny with campaigners highlighting serious questions including a worrying lack of transparency in their annual accounts and, at the beginning of February, a sudden Trustee resignation citing governance issues, including concerns relating to the Memorandum and Articles. 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 two letters before action have been issued one from campaigners (including parents from one community now devoid of Co-workers) that has been issued by solicitors over potential breaches of the charity’s Articles along with accusations of a form of manipulation of the membership before last year’s stormy AGM, and the second over breaches of the Human Rights Act from some learnings disabled residents themselves.
Notes to Editors
Recently CVT have been making a number of false and misleading claims to members of the press, we should like to set the record straight;
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 they 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, CVT did say that they would set up a workshop to explore the possibilities for shared living and invite guidance from an outside group (“Shared Lives”), however, even though they 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. The residents are upset 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 have 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 rather audacious 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'.
Misleading Claims re HMRC and Tax
False claims about HMRC's position on Tax. CVT have deliberately sought to convert Co-workers into employees and have made false claims in order to do this, initially claiming that it was necessary to do this due to changes in tax law, which they now agree is untrue. Furthermore CVT could easily operate the Co-worker tax model if they chose to - something HMRC has made completely clear in correspondence;
1. In short, there is a clear agreement between Camphill (the AoCC) and the HMRC 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. Other Camphill communities in the UK, outside CVT, operate the Co-worker model perfectly satisfactorily in line with this agreement.
3. CVT, however, knowingly undermined this agreement by enforcing changes that it did not have to make - this was their choice.
4. Only as a consequence of certain of these changes are we now in a situation that HMRC felt on the basis of information given to it by CVT that Co-workers are de facto employees and that this needed be reflected as of 6th April 2015 - this can however be changed if CVT had the will to go back to the proper model, because the Camphill agreement with HMRC still stands. 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. HMRC have 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.
Laws campaigners say CVT have breached
Human Rights Act
Mental Capacity Act
Charity Commission regulations
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
Parents and family members of the residents
Learning disabled residents
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
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;
How bureaucrats destroy public services
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.
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.
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.
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.
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;
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 77 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
Action for Botton
Neil Davidson – Chair
Tel: 0845 833 8292
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