Updated: Charity regulator slams The Green Home management

The Green Home - facing closure?
The Green Home – facing closure?

A MORAY CHARITY formed over ten years ago to recycle used furniture and provide a boost to those struggling to set up a new home is understood to be facing closure after having its charitable status stripped by regulators.

The Green Home was set up in Buckie by former Forres Waste Busters office manager Heath Gardner, who had become concerned that so many useable items were being sent to landfill sites.

The dream, however, may now be over as insideMoray has learned that The Green Home has lost its charitable status and been given three weeks to appeal, with a source close to the business saying that all staff had been made redundant although this has not been confirmed.

Helped by a £35,000 start-up grant from the Moray Council, Mr Gardner set up the community enterprise charity in February 2005 at rented premises in Buckie.

A further grant of £92,104 was awarded later that year through Moray Council’s Social Inclusion Partnership ‘Moray Youth Start’, along with £25,000 from HIE Moray.

Within a year the project had processed 840tonnes of waste furniture and electrical items and had provided 3000 individuals with access to low-cost furniture – by April 2007 the business was considered fully sustainable through a series of service-level agreements with Moray and Aberdeenshire Councils.

In 2008 The Green Home was named as the Community Recycling Centre for Scotland’s ‘Member of the Year’, with Mr Gardner saying at the time: “In the last year, we have helped 2753 individuals in our community through our furniture collection and reuse schemes and have increased our turnover by 75%.”

A regular customer at the Buckie shop told insideMoray: “This has been a very valuable resource for the local community and throughout Moray and Aberdeenshire, it will be such a shame to lose it – but my understanding is that staff have already been informed and the shop has to be cleared within three weeks.”

Nobody was available to speak to insideMoray when we tried to contact the business on Monday.

Charity Regulator Report

Since publishing this story another reader has been in touch with insideMoray confirming that The Green Home had lost its charity status, but that staff had not yet been informed by the company that they would be made redundant.

Information on the status of the ‘Moray Recycling Action Group’ on the OSCR website does confirm that the charity has lost its status, with the statement: “Following inquiries under section 28 of the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 it appears to OSCR that Moray Recycling Action Group does not meet the charity test.

“As a result, we have given notice that it will be removed from the Scottish Charity Register after 21 days from the date of the letter under section 30(1)(b) of the 2005 Act.”

A detailed report on why this action has been taken can also be found online.

The report says: “Following our visits to the charity’s premises and meetings with the manager it appears to us that the charity is not fulfilling its charitable purposes or providing public benefit.

“The charity’s principal activity is the operation of a retail outlet for recycled furniture and other household items donated by the public. The charity does not restrict or specifically target benefit to those in poverty, hardship or distress. We confirmed that sale of goods is open to all members of the public and all customers pay the same price for goods they purchase, regardless of their personal financial circumstances.”

Significantly, the Charity regulators report added: “We identified significant private benefit to the manager and his partner, who is also employed by the charity.

“This includes high levels of wages, unauthorised personal use of charity vehicles and other charitable property. We consider this level of private benefit is not incidental to or necessary for the achievement of the charity’s purposes and outweighs any public benefit provided.”