Wednesday 25 January 2017

NHS market rent demand threatens the future of Brent Advocacy Concern

I asked to speak at the Brent Health and Wellbeing Board  yesterday on behalf of Brent Advocacy Concern who were at another meeting, as were Cllr Butt, Leader of the Council and Cllr McLennan, Deputy Leader.

Chair Cllr Hirani, who has the discretion to allow speakers, refused my request on the ground that I had not given 24 hours notice.

My request was in response to a request from Brent Advocacy Concern, a 25 year old charity in Brent, who work with people with disabilities.

NHS England, through NHS Estates, are now charging 'market' rents on spaces in their property and this is impacting on many charities and voluntary organisations who work on health issues.  As the STP proposals involve working in 'Hubs' bringing together different services, including voluntary organisations, this is clearly an issue.

You cannot have a policy of working with voluntary organisations and then pricing them out.  This impacts on the whole strategy of prevention and out of hospital care.

Brent Advocacy Concern received a letter from NHS England on January 11th, which had been sent to all Clinical Commissioning Groups, including Brent, about the move towards market rents.

John Healy of BAC wrote to me:
In order to stay in our office we know that we will have to pay 'rent' on the space. We will also be required to pay for 'capital costs'. Then comes the 'services charges'. Followed by the 10% Management fee. And finally  another 5% Management fee towards the overall lease. There may be other charges such as VAT but as a charity we might be exempt.

I cannot make it myself tonight, as I am booked for a council meeting at the same time.
Anyway, we will have been providing services in Brent continuously for over 25 years (we became a registered charity in Jan. 1991) but we will have to close down as soon as the NHS ASKS FOR THE MONEY.  So far they have not told us anything but I am expecting 'the bad news' anytime soon.

Maybe you or someone could ask a question as to what help might be offered to help small charities to stay within NHS properties such as The Willesden Centre for Health & Care.
That was the question I wanted to ask as it clearly affects more than just Brent Advocacy Concern. The organisation contacted Brent Healthwatch after the publication of an article outlining their situation on this blog LINK but received no response.  I spoke to Healthwatch at the meeting and gave them more details and hope that this results in some action, or at least a recognition of the problem.

John Healy added today (Wednesday):

At the last Community &Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee meeting on the 23rd of November, 2016 it was resolved that:-

(1) "Brent CCG together with NHS Property Services Ltd. develop 'a social value' policy detailing how to maximise use of void space in NHS buildings by the voluntary sector" Agenda item 5, 'NHS Estate in Brent'.


How to keep it local--- A 5 step guide for councillors & commissioners.  It covers The Social Value Act

and it can be obtained from


Philip Grant said...

Whatever happened to joined-up thinking?

The voluntary sector and charities (including small local charities like Brent Advocacy Concern) provide services to the public which would otherwise mean additional costs having to be met out of taxation.

By charging "market rents" that these organisations cannot afford, many of those services will be forced out of existence. Extra costs will have to be met by the NHS or local Councils, either in providing replacement services or in "picking up the pieces" from the damage done to vulnerable people through the lack of those services.

The sensible way forward would be to accept that these voluntary organisations do provide a "value" to the community, and to the NHS, and treat that value as their "rental contribution", so that the "Hubs" which NHS England wants to see (and which are a good idea) can actually happen in practice.


Scott said...

Brent civic centre has a lot of space, is paid for by us for the greater good of people in Brent. Whilst at the same time Labour like outsourcing & decimating services that provide a public function who would used to occupy space in the civic centre or other council owned property.

An ideal solution would be for the council to step up & offer these organisations space. What is the occupancy at the moment? Im aware that they had a floor empty a couple of years back.

Anonymous said...

Well said Philip. At least you and I can see the sense in what you say. The council and the NHS need the voluntary organisations to provide these services "which we cannot afford to provide" and then charge rents to these organisations which they cannot afford and thus they cannot provide the services. Who is advising these it Donald Trump?

Martin Francis said...