The CRA run numerous campaigns and services to make sure that our members’ views and the sector are well-represented to a wide range of audiences, key decision makers and influencers. This section of the website is the starting point for keeping up to date on the latest news from our campaigns and work in the press.
As the voice of charity retail we run numerous campaigns throughout the year, large and small, in the aim of advancing our members’ interests. Alongside our planned activity, we monitor and respond to issues that arise with reactive campaigns.
A few of our recent successes and activities include:
- Successfully simplifying the process of claiming Gift Aid on donated goods, following our high profile lobbying campaign and negotiations with HMRC
- Commissioning research from the think tank, Demos, to examine the social and economic benefits of charity shops to individuals, communities and high streets
- Campaigning to protect your rate relief in Wales and articulating a positive image of charity shops on the high street
- Working with other charity sector bodies on the future of house-to-house collections for charities of all sizes during the Review of the Charities Act 2006.
This year, our immediate priorities include:
- Run a General Election campaign to ensure our members voice is heard
- Continuing our campaign to protect charity shops’ rate relief in Wales and the UK
- Strengthening charity shops’ voice in the nationwide and popular debate about healthy high streets, and actively promoting evidence about their benefits to politicians, media and relevant sector bodies.
Business Improvement Districts (BIDs)
The Charity Retail Association is working to improve the reputation of charity shops on the high street, in order to protect and support its members. Throughout 2014, one of the subjects we are focusing on is charity shops’ involvement in their local areas, and whether charity shops take part in groups to support and improve high streets and town centres, such as Business Improvement Districts.
Throughout the first part of 2014 we asked members about their current work in BIDs, you can read a summary of the findings here.
Over the next few months we shall be taking this information and creating a set of guidelines for how to engage with your local business areas.
What is a BID?
A BID is a business-led and business funded body formed to improve a defined commercial area.
A Business Improvement District is a partnership between a local authority and the local business community to develop projects and services that will benefit the trading environment within the boundary of a clearly defined commercial area, where businesses have voted to invest collectively in local improvements which will benefit the local economy.
Town centre renewal research
We held a joint seminar with the Association of Town and City Management (ATCM) to bring together town centre managers, BID representatives and charities in order to present the findings of new research and discuss ways in which we can collectively facilitate these important relationships to benefit high streets and town centres. With more than 10,000 charity shops in the UK, they are major players on the UK high street.
The Charity Retail Association-conducted survey found that the majority of charities were involved with high street renewal already in one way or another – with the top ways of being involved being Business Improvement Districts (28 per cent of charities involved) and local traders’ associations (27 per cent of charities).
15 per cent were involved in chambers of commerce and 1 in 10 with other more informal initiatives. 83 per cent of charities wanted their shops to be involved in supporting their local town centres.
Attendees at the meeting discussed how they could further raise awareness among charities about town centre renewal initiatives in their area and how to get involved – and also how charity shops, town centre managers and BIDs could best work together in partnership for the benefit of the high street.
Welsh rate relief
In 2012 the Welsh Government produced a report looking at charity shops and business rate relief and numerous recommendations in the report would have had a detrimental impact on our members. The biggest was the proposal to cut rate relief from 80% to 50%, this would cost the sector £1.54m. One in five charity shops would close, creating nearly 100 new empty shops and resulting in a loss of over 150 jobs, and 2,000 volunteering opportunities.
Since then we ran a campaign to highlight the damage the proposals would cause, lobbied countless politicians from across Wales and Westminster on this issue, gained a phenomenal amount of public support against these proposals and a lot more.
In October 2013, the Welsh Government announced that they plan to make no immediate change to rate relief, we are hugely pleased by this outcome but hopefully they will drop these proposals in the near future.
Giving Something Back, the CRA-commisioned report conducted by Demos
One of the biggest misconceptions about charity shops is that they have a negative impact on the high street. We are working tirelessly to dispel this myth through various work.
In 2013 we commissioned the think tank, Demos, to conduct a major piece of research on the value of charity retail to the high street. Key findings from the report include;
- One in five volunteers were in the process of looking for paid work and 29% planned to go on to work or study – highlighting the role of charity shops as a springboard to other activities
- 61% said that volunteering had a positive impact on their physical and mental health and over 80% said it improved their self-esteem and confidence
- 80% valued learning new skills, and just under 80% cited gaining retail experience
- A quarter of members of the public said that charity shops directly increased social cohesion
- 59% of the public said that having a charity shop on the high street made people more likely to give to charity
- The research uncovered examples of very effective local partnerships, for example with local prisons; along with case studies of shops delivering services or advice in the community.
High street impacts
- There is no evidence that the growth of charity shops is causing or facilitating high street decline
- Three quarters of the public support charity shops receiving 80% business rate relief
- Charity shops are exerting a stabilising influence on ailing high streets – maintaining footfall, catering to specific local needs, and filling shops that would otherwise be empty
- They can prevent increases in crime and anti-social behaviour by occupying vacant premises
- Charity shops do not increase rents and do not prevent small and medium businesses from opening on the high street
Charity shops are able to benefit from Gift Aid on donated items. However, the previous arrangements had been quite complicated, requiring charities to write lots of letters to donors in order to reclaim the Gift Aid from Government.
We have been working with HMRC to reduce the amount it costs charities to administer Gift Aid, ensuring that more of that money goes to the charitable cause rather than unnecessary letter writing.
As a result of these discussions, new changes were announced in April 2013 which significantly simplified the process, and we continue to work with HMRC to refine the guidance and make things even easier for charities to take advantage of this important income stream.