Non-existent charity rakes in over £100k of public money from Tower Hamlets Council

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Tens of thousands of pounds of public money has been paid by Tower Hamlets Council to a defunct local charity that closed down 16 years ago.

Docklands Handicapped Group (DHG), based in the Isle of Dogs, was removed from the Charity Commission register in 2000 but received over £100,000 from the council in the five years up to December 2015.

Its status is now subject to investigation by both Tower Hamlets Council and the Charity Commission.

According to the council, DHG provides “care support to one person with disabilities to remain independent at home”.

But questions have been raised over how the group has continued to receive council money as a supplier despite there being no record of the organisation being either a registered charity or a company since 2000.

The payments to DHG, listed publicly under the council’s payments to suppliers as a provider of “adult social care”, include a total of £14,366 in 2015 and £47,597 in 2012.

Commenting on the case, Councillor Peter Golds said: “As it stands it sounds extraordinary.

“I’ve received a great deal of information, which I passed onto the council’s fraud department and to the commissioners.”

‘Not a charity’

Receipts of the recent council payments to the former charity were being sent to Island House, on the Isle of Dogs.

But records also link Docklands Handicapped Group to an address on Saunders Ness Road, home address of Kathy McTasney, who stood as a candidate for Lutfur Rahman’s Tower Hamlets First party in the 2014 local elections, having defected from Labour.

She told the East End Citizen that DHG pays her disabled daughter’s carers. “DHG is not a charity,” said Ms McTasney. “It provides care for my severely disabled daughter.”

Ms McTasney is a trustee of the Mudchute Association, which runs Mudchute Park and Farm, and General Secretary of the Employees General Union, which she set up in 2009. She is also a local activist and spoke at an anti-cuts rally in Alpha Grove in January.

Ms McTasney said she is not a signatory on the bank account into which the council has been paying money.

She added: “The carers get paid through social services. They [the carers] do the care plan and they cost the care plan and that money goes into the account and comes out to pay the carers. They [the carers] get it directly.”

Council grant

The East End Citizenhas seen documents that reveal the former charity applied for a council grant in 2003, three years after it supposedly closed its doors.

The £10,000 grant application was turned down by the council’s Cabinet Grants Panel in December 2003, with the case officer citing “a lack of monitoring details” and “difficulties in scheduling meetings” among the reasons for the rejection.

A spokesperson for the Charity Commission said: “The Charity Commission has contacted the organisation to establish if it is still operating as a charity. We await a response.

“It is an offence to solicit funds on the basis that an organisation is a registered charity if it is not registered with the Charity Commission in England and Wales, as this is misleading to donors and the general public.

“We have contacted Tower Hamlets Council for further information regarding the organisation.”

A Tower Hamlets Council spokesperson said: “The council takes these allegations very seriously. Our initial investigations show that all care payments made were to meet the assessed needs of the recipient and were reviewed and agreed in line with standard social work practice.

“Docklands Handicapped Group is known to adult social care, however they should have alerted the council to its change of circumstances. We will continue to investigate the detail of this case through all appropriate channels.”

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