Portsmouth charity ‘facing closure’ over planned increase in rent

Chairman Jenny Johns, secretary Jackie Waites and secretary Lyn Dainty at the 

Portsmouth Family Welfare Association in 2012
Chairman Jenny Johns, secretary Jackie Waites and secretary Lyn Dainty at the Portsmouth Family Welfare Association in 2012
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THE boss of a charity that supports some of the most vulnerable families in the region fears it will never find enough money to cover a proposed increase in its rent – and be forced to close.

Jenny Johns says it was the ‘final straw’ for Portsmouth Family Welfare Association when Portsmouth City Council served notice, saying that it would be putting up its cost of staying at Carnegie Library, in Fratton, from £700 a year to potentially £5,000 – a sevenfold increase.

If it goes up to £5,000, we will end up having to close down because we can’t find an way at all of affording that.

Jenny Johns, of Portsmouth Family Welfare Association

It comes despite social enterprise Learning Links pledging to try and find the money by launching a crowd-funding campaign.

Should the increase be agreed, it will come into force from April 1.

And Mrs Johns says the demand is huge given that doesn’t even take into account business rates and before the charity starts supporting people.

The charity, which provides clothing, furnishings, bedding, nursery items and food, has supported 2,500 families in the last year.

And Mrs Johns says that figure continues to rise –which is why the charity’s survival is so vital.

Speaking to The News, she said: ‘If it goes up to £5,000, we will end up having to close down because we can’t find a way at all of affording that.

‘It was the final straw last year when we got this notice.

‘We struggle to keep going. We struggle to raise money.

‘The only thing we need money for is our rent and rates, electricity, and for the two ladies who run the office.

‘We don’t give out money at all.

‘Also, those are the things people don’t look to raise money for. People want to see a project and something the money will go towards to helping people. Rent and rates are not a part of that. So it’s a bit difficult.

‘We pay £700 in rent a year at the moment, and then £300 in business rates. So that’s £1,000 we need before we start.

‘The problem is, if it goes up to £5,000 for just the rent, no-one will give us any money. So what can we do?

‘We have been going since 1902.’

Portsmouth Tory housing boss Steve Wemyss has said terms for a new lease have yet to be decided, and the proposal has come about in light of the council’s difficult financial position.