Councils’ plans will hit charity shops hard, Scope warns
16 April 2012
Scope has called on councils to re-think plans to take away textile bank sites, because of the impact it would have on charity shops, the shoppers that visit them and above all the vital work that is funded by donated clothes.
Charity Retail Association (CRA) has launched a campaign to make councils think twice, which has now got the backing of the Sunday Mirror.
Richard Hawkes, in a comment piece for Sunday paper, wrote: “This will hurt us and the people we help… shops that rely on those donations,” and “shoppers on the high street”.
There are hundreds of clothes banks across London, where people donate their clothes to charity.
A group of councils in London are looking into scheme that will hand over sites currently being used by charities to private companies.
The plan under discussion would see companies collect the public’s donated clothes and sell them for a profit and give a cut or a fee to the councils. The plan is being discussed by London Councils, an umbrella group representing London’s local authorities.
The move follows Northumberland and Hertfordshire County Councils selling their sites to private companies in 2011. Hertfordshire is now promoting the scheme to other councils.
In London alone, Scope’s 163 banks represent more than £1.5 million worth of support for the charity’s work with disabled people.
According to the CRA, there are over 400 textile banks operated by charities on local authority sites in the capital. Charities collect over 2,000 tonnes every year from these banks, feeding over 160 shops in London.
The CRA estimates that over 400 jobs and nearly 6,000 volunteering roles could also be lost if these proposals go ahead. The CRA is calling on councils to think twice before they consider selling off the sites.
Commenting further on the issue Richard Hawkes, chief executive of disability charity Scope, said:
“When you drop clothes in a textile bank charities like Scope empty them and take them to our shops. We sort them and, hopefully find items that the many bargain hunters that visit our shops will like. If we don’t sell an item in one shop, we pass it on to another. If all else fails we sell it to a recycler. All the money we make goes to support disabled people.
“At least that was the case. Councils are starting to evict charities from clothes banks sites and flog them off to private companies, who in turn sell on your clothes for a profit, and give a cut to the council.
“Make no mistake; this scheme will hurt charity shops that rely on the donations, the number of people charities like ours can work with, and shoppers on the high street.
“Bromley and other councils in London appear set to join Hertfordshire and Northumberland in adopting this scheme.
“With the Charity Retail Association, we are calling on them to not to go down that path.
“We understand that all councils have to make tough spending decisions, but the real value of donated clothes to charity and society is when they are re-sold in shops.”
“When you donate clothes do you want them to line wealthy businessmen’s pockets?”
Read the article in the Sunday Mirror (15 April)