Caritas Anchor House

Working at the heart of homelessness

Homeless residents petition Downing Street over threat to award winning charity

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Homeless residents petition Downing Street over threat to award winning charity

15th October 2015
Residents of an award winning homeless charity have today presented a petition to Downing Street, urging the Prime Minister to take action over an unexpected VAT bill that is threatening services for vulnerable people in one of the UK’s most deprived areas.

Three residents of Caritas Anchor House joined the charity’s Chief Executive, Keith Fernett, in presenting the petition signed by over one hundred of its service users. The charity and its residents have called for government intervention to halt an unexpected VAT bill of £1 million on the development of ‘move-on’ accommodation for homeless people.

The bill was incurred after HMRC reviewed the charity’s VAT status, and as a result they can no longer reclaim VAT incurred on the building project. Caritas Anchor House had previously been advised that VAT due on the development would be in the region of £250,000.

Caritas Anchor House has insisted the project does not alter its service provisions, and warned the bill will put its support for homeless and vulnerable people in jeopardy. The charity provides accommodation for more than 230 homeless adults a year in London’s Canning Town, while also providing specialist support for at-risk groups within the local community.

Keith Fernett, Chief Executive of Caritas Anchor House, said, “We’ve presented this petition to Downing Street in the hope it will alert the highest levels of government to the tragedy that is about to ensue. HMRC’s heavy-handed approach shows no understanding of what we do, and the consequences if they continue to demand the VAT they believe is due.

“No-one will win if HMRC continues to pursue this matter. Vulnerable people will put at needless risk. Local authority services will put under even greater pressure. We urge the Prime Minister and the Government to heed this petition and take action before it’s too late.”


Further quotes and interviews are available on request. Photographs below, high resolution on request.
Jazmine Sandison, Communications Lead | Phone: 020 7476 6062
Email: | Website:


Caritas Anchor House is a residential and life skills centre addressing the root causes of homelessness – including poor education, drug or alcohol misuse, mental health problems, domestic abuse or offending. Their driving mission is to ensure that those who walk through their doors grow in confidence and move towards leading independent, self-fulfilling lives by providing education, guidance and personal rehabilitation. Registered charity no: 1147794


L-R: Rebekah Warburton, Keith Fernett, Kelly Abnett, Jazmine Sandison, Tunahan Gurcay

CEO, staff and residents from Caritas Anchor House hand in petition at 10 Downing Street