Almshouse widened charitable objects to help residents with long term care

The Charity Commission (’the commission’) today published an operational case report about how it widened the charitable objects of the historic almshouse St Nicholas Hospital, (charity number 214916) to enable it to help their beneficiaries on a longer term basis.

St Nicholas Hospital has been providing almshouse accommodation since its founding in the early 13th century. Last year the trustees applied for a scheme to widen the charity’s objects to allow it to provide financial assistance to beneficiaries when they can no longer live independently in the almshouses. The charity’s existing objects did not allow the trustees to help former residents if they needed to move out.

While the charity had been helping residents move into care (for example, by liaising with care homes and social services), the trustees wanted to be able help former residents financially if they had to move out of the almshouse. The trustees showed that the charity had sufficient funds to provide this help. The trustees knew that the possibility of moving into nursing care and its costs was a real source of anxiety for older residents.

The commission assessed the case and decided that a scheme could be made, that there was a legal case for widening the charity’s objects. Beneficiaries were living longer and as a result, and combined with their health needs, had to move into specialist care. The commission also considered that the change being requested was in the spirit of the existing purposes, was close to the charity’s original objects, and fitted with the charity’s need to have purposes which are suitable and effective in the light of current social and economic circumstances.

David Holdsworth Chief Operating Officer at the Charity Commission, said:

A huge part of the work we do in the commission is to enable and support the sector and beneficiaries. This is a good example of that work and is a good outcome for residents at St Nicholas Hospital. The outcome should provide peace of mind and greater support for the charity’s beneficiaries. Supporting charities to operate more effectively in an ever changing and complex operating environment is still a key part of the work of the commission. A charity’s aims are set out in its governing document. Where these become outdated, it is the duty of trustees to seek to change the purposes in order to ensure the charity’s continuing effectiveness.

If you are running a charity and want to change its objects, you need to read our schemes guidance. This sets out that you need to explain the grounds for changing the objects and how the requested change is the most appropriate for your charity and the circumstances that apply. You must usually consult with people before you apply to us though in this particular case a consultation was not needed.

The full report is available on GOV.UK.