As Parliament broke for the election, Green MP Caroline Lucas filed an Early Day Motion in the Commons calling on CVT to revert to one of several optional Co-worker models in order to preserve the community and avoid further distressing residents.
The move follows concerns from parents and families of the learning disabled residents and a petition produced by these residents taken to Downing St last month, asking for the changes to be stopped.
Early Day Motion 924
VOLUNTEER VOCATIONAL CO-WORKERS AT BOTTON VILLAGE COMMUNITY FOR ADULTS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
That this House notes that until recently Botton Village, a Camphill Community of 60 years standing, offered a shared way of life for learning-disabled adults alongside volunteer co-workers, living as equals, sharing home, work, culture and recreation; further notes that Camphill Village Trust (CVT) is now insisting that co-workers become employees, with living quarters segregated from residents, or face eviction; further notes that in 2012 concerns were raised, including on safeguarding, about how the volunteer co-worker model at Botton Village was being run, and in February 2014 the Charity Commission published an operational compliance report that stated 'key trustees shared our concerns and were committed to addressing them urgently'; further notes that the Commission's report does not state that the existing co-worker model was intrinsically problematic; also notes that the HM Revenue and Customs technical document BIM22040 sets out how to operate a volunteer co-working model; further notes that this model continues to operate at other Camphill communities in the UK; is concerned about reports from families of residents at Botton Village that the loss of the residents' chosen lifestyle, of their home and family life as they know it, and the removal of very dear friends, is causing distress to learning-disabled residents; therefore urges CVT to work with the authorities to revert to a volunteer co-worker model at Botton Village; and calls on the Department of Health to work with the Care Quality Commission, HM Revenue and Customs and the Charity Commission to support those running intentional communities to ensure that the unique and successful volunteer co-worker model can continue.
The motion comes after Caroline received confirmation from the Treasury that the changes at Botton were not due to HMRC requirements but CVT’s own choice.
HM Treasury has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (227495):
To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, what representations he has received on the tax treatment of people living as co-workers at intentional communities run by the Camphill Village Trust; and if he will make a statement. (227495)
Tabled on: 12 March 2015
Mr David Gauke:
The Chancellor receives many representations from a wide range of people including recent letters on the tax treatment of co-workers at intentional communities. The employment status of individuals is determined by the terms and conditions under which they work, applying criteria handed down in judgements by the Courts. It is the responsibility of engagers to decide the employment status of individuals they engage.
The answer was submitted on 19 Mar 2015 at 17:41.
This situation is set against the backdrop of national concern about the treatment of the learning disabled, with the launch of the Green Paper by Norman Lamb ‘No Voice Unheard, No Right Ignored’. In a recent BBC interview Mr 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”. This, say campaigners is exactly the treatment being meted out to the learning disabled at Botton Village.
Political support for the Community’s struggle against the enforced changes is growing with concern for the situation expressed by Baroness Hollins in the House of Lords at the start of the month, over 30 MPs of all political colours writing to Ministers to express their concern and the Minister for Disabled People Mark Harper MP holding an enquiry at another CVT site, The Grange, in his constituency.
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-worker model for the Villagers.
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.”
What’s more, earlier this month the High Court granted injunctive relief to learning disabled residents (now extended to cover Co-workers) represented by Bindmans LLP over breaches of their Human Rights under article 8; the injunction effectively stops support workers coming into their homes and prohibits any interference in their Co-worker family relationships by CVT until either a judicial review or the full case can be heard before the High Court itself.
Human rights issues aside, CVT is already under scrutiny in multiple areas with campaigners highlighting serious questions about the way the charity is run including a worrying lack of transparency in its accounts which, in spite of requests, has yet to be clarified; a potential conflict of interest with a director whose own company supplies services to CVT for unidentified remuneration; claims of harassment being made to local Police and pending actions for compensation by former community members who claim to have been bullied out of their roles and communities.
In addition, last month there was a sudden Trustee resignation citing assorted governance issues including concerns relating to the Articles and Memorandum. Finally a further hearing is scheduled on March 31st in the High Court in a claim brought by campaigners, including parents from one community now devoid of Co-workers, over potential breaches of the charity’s articles and a form of manipulation of membership before last year’s AGM. Interestingly, whilst none of the other nine Local Authorities have done so North Yorkshire County Council recently applied to be joined to this action because of their concerns.
One can only wonder how CVT’s Chair of Trustees Felicity Chadwick-Histed, also a 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 the charity’s beneficiaries.
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 appears to have secretly decided to try to get rid of the volunteers and stop shared living. Effectively it therefore attacked it’s beneficiary (the community) and is currently 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 members 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.
CVT Trustees who are responsible for the conduct of the Trust
Christopher John Beckett Retired
Stephen Stanley Butterworth Consultant on public to private sector transfers
Felicity Anne Chadwick-Histed Partner in Publitas
Christopher Cook Retired architect
Diana Mary Parrish Part-time educational consultant
Peter Sienbjarnarson Chairman of Sólheimar community in Iceland
Robert James Thompson Director of consultancy - specialising in service reconfiguration
Karen Elizabeth Walker Educational adviser
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
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 imposed layers of intensive management thereby changing the facts on the ground. 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 should not (according to the charity’s constitution) 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. Co-workers are categorically not engaged in tax avoidance. (BIM 22040 deals with their liability to pay tax)
A detailed breakdown plus supporting documentation of these can be viewed on the Action for Botton site.
Claims about Shared living
CVT has never mentioned until recently 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'.
Laws, etc, campaigners say CVT have breached
Human Rights Act
Mental Capacity Act
Charity Commission regulations
The Charity’s own Memorandum and Articles of Association
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
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
Guidelines about care of the learning disabled can be viewed here
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 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. Tellingly, CVT refused to call these talks ‘mediation’ at the time, but are now using that term for PR purposes.
For further information see
Action for Botton
Neil Davidson – Chair
Tel: 0845 833 8292
Tel: 01765 640736
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