Lawrence Graham lawyers advise councils to take on trusts

Councils struggling to fund public services, such as residential homes for the elderly and art galleries, can ease the burden by turning them into charitable trusts, according to a report by London law firm Lawrence Graham.

The report, which was written by lawyers Simon Randall and Phillip Heath, says benefits of transferring services to a charitable body include:

exemption from VAT;

mandatory relief from 80 per cent of the national non domestic rates;

increased chances of National Lottery funding.

They say that while democratic control of a service may be lost once it is turned into a charitable trust, subsequent community involvement in the running of a trust is a significant advantage.

Randall said that by taking the charitable trust route councils can safeguard important amenities for years to come.