Air Rescue Team Held Back By Jersey Charity Laws

Due to Jersey Laws Air Rescue Channel Islands has been forced to register as a Charity in Guernsey or Face not being able to run it’s emergency Air Service.

In our case we had discussions with the Commissioner surrounding this and the response was that he needed to see us fully operational before he would grant our charity status. Quite how a new charity can get fully operational without being able to open a bank account, take donations or carry out any fundraising is beyond us!

Air Rescue Channel Islands has been developing a pan-island, emergency helicopter service, community-funded, that will be on standby 24 hours a day.

The Charity Rescue Team took to their social media pageto highlight their frustration at Jersey’s charity commission.

The Jersey Charity Commissioner setup the new charity register this year and all existing charities had to apply by the end of 2018. We believe there are hundreds yet to process and at the current rate it appears the backlog could take until the end of 2020 to clear. It is not known if new charities have to wait until the existing charities are processed.

The problem that now occurs is a new charity is unable to call itself a charity until the registration has been processed which in turn means can an organisation fundraise until if it is not a registered charity? Ethically I don’t believe it can, but this matter is answered another way. Now that an entity of ‘charity’ exists on the island in law, banks and other institutions insist on seeing the registration before they will open accounts or offer other services. It has taken us over 4 months to open a bank account, and we are unable to get the ability to process card donations or direct debits until we can provide our registration as a charity. We also cannot claim tax relief or GST rebates, which adds a further 5% to our costs.

Luckily, Air Rescue is a pan-island operation, and we have had discussions with the Guernsey government and registry who fully understood what we are trying to achieve and accepted us as a Guernsey Charity despite being registered in Jersey, a process that only took a week or so.
This has not solved all our issues as you try explaining to banks and credit card companies why we are a Guernsey charity based in Jersey, so the challenge continues!
The only way forward for us now is to spend thousands of pounds with lawyers closing down our Jersey company structures and bank accounts and starting again in Guernsey, a process that will be time consuming, costly and ultimately will delay us being able to launch our lifeline service later this year.
Let’s hope the Charity Commission has other benefits that offset this strangling of new charities.

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Thomas Hunter avatar
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Yet again the preoccupation with red tape has shown how difficult it is to operate in Jersey.
Typical catch 22 scenario

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