A recent High Court ruling has stated that that NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts may not be treated as charities, and are therefore not eligible for business rates relief.

Led by Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, a group of 17 trusts submitted that their properties, mostly hospitals, were wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes and as such they should be able to qualify for business rates relief. However, it was concluded by Mr Justice Morgan that “a foundation trust is not established for charitable purposes only, and therefore the preliminary issue should be answered by holding that a foundation trust is not a charity.”

This decision has been welcomed by the Charity Commission, who have stated that “charity has a distinct status in law, and it also has a special meaning in the eyes of the public. It is crucial that this special status is protected for the benefit of the public.”