Cause4Opinion

Daily Update: A Different Planet?

Penned by our intern Frey.When it comes to offering reciprocal benefits shared between charities and their supporters, the environmental charity Healthy Planet has stolen a march. Through its Property Scheme, Healthy Planet offers to occupy empty shops that – even when unoccupied – require owners to pay business rates.  As a consequence of the economic climate, online buying  and the supermarket emporia’s stranglehold, the number of empty whitewashed shops on our high street  grows by the day.

Because charities receive a mandatory 80% discount on business rates, the owners can save themselves considerable and invariably unaffordable sums of money if a charity is in occupation instead. In exchange for a donation of 50% of the costs that would otherwise be incurred, Healthy Planet agrees to take up occupancy, signing a no-notice lease through which they agree to vacate the premises just as soon as a more lucrative tenant is found.   For the charity and the owner, this is a ‘win – win’ situation.  Healthy Planet’s scheme has been highly successful, coinciding with it being reported in its recent annual report that income has risen from £13,000 to £1.1million within the period of only one year.

For the charity and the owner, this is a ‘win – win’ situation

Not everyone is enamoured.  A recent Financial Times article quotes experts claiming that the Property Scheme amounts to a “rates dodging” scam.   As for ourselves, we can do little other than to admire the ingenuity of Healthy Planet.  The time cries out for innovation and creativity and demands that new ideas are tested out.  As for Healthy Planet… well they’re on a different one!

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