National Village & Community Hall Network

The latest news bulletin from the National village and community hall network has been released today, if you would like to sign up to their mailing list click here.village-halls-network

The latest news bulletin includes an interesting article on:

Budget Representation

Taking action on VAT on extensions and alterations for halls is a priority.  Deborah Clarke from ACRE and Louise Beaton, a founder member of this Network met with the Charity Tax Group this month to discuss what the possibilities may be. As a result of the meeting a representation was made to the Treasury requesting consideration of a VAT refund or grant scheme. 

The full briefing paper can be read here. budget_representation_18-1-17



Annual returns – have you done yours?

This is a gentle reminder to all village hall and community building management committees that the annual returns (for 2015-16) are due by the 31 January 2017.

However, we have been notified by the Charity Commission that their website has experienced some problems (due to a sudden influx of activity!) and their advice is to make the submissions early in the morning, in the evening or at weekends.

If problems still persist, a Charity can print the screen where the problem occurs and email the copy to the Charity Commission, who will then note that an attempt to meet the deadline has been made.

The phone times have been extended from 09:00 – 12:00 to 10:00 – 16:00 to cover the problems that have been encountered.

Liability insurance for village hall committees.

The following article has been kindly written for us by Martyn Ingram of Norris and Fisher Insurance company.  Supporting material on the subject of insurance can also found via our library of ACRE information sheets, please log on to the membership part of the Cambridgeshire ACRE website to find information sheets 7, 15, 20 and 35 all relating to the subject of insurance.

In my role as an insurance broker dealing extensively with Village Hall committees, I am often asked questions beginning “Would my policy protect me if…” The questions usually revolve around a dreadful injury being suffered by someone using the Hall or its grounds.

The answer, of course, depends upon the circumstances.

Village Hall insurance policies will generally cover various types of liability – Public Liability, Products Liability, Employers’ Liability, Property Owner’s Liability and often Trustees Indemnity.

Public Liability cover protects the committee if they are sued when someone is injured or their property is damaged as a result of negligence on the part of the committee or its representatives. So if a visitor were to slip and break a leg due to a highly polished floor – and the committee had not put up signs to warn people of the danger – the policy would pay compensation to the injured person along with any court costs that may have been incurred.  

Products Liability cover applies to injury or damage sustained as a result of a defect in a product supplied by the committee – such as food poisoning from refreshments provided by the committee for a private function.

The definition of an employee in the policy will usually include committee members and volunteers – as well as any employees. Hence the need for Employers’ Liability insurance – it is necessary regardless of whether the committee pays a wage to anyone. If an employee (as defined) were to be injured as a result of the negligence of the committee, compensation and legal costs would be paid under the Employers’ Liability cover. For example, a committee member could make a claim under this section if he or she were to injure themselves falling off a faulty ladder or if they were electrocuted using an item that had not been PAT tested.

Where the committee owns the buildings – or is responsible for insuring them – the Hall insurance policy will include Property Owner’s Liability. This covers the committee against a claim for injury or damage arising from this ownership. For example, a tile could fall off the roof and damage a car or injure a passer-by.

Trustees Indemnity insurance is not always included in Hall insurance policies and many committees elect not to take it. It would protect the trustees and officials if one of them were to be sued in a personal capacity for any actual or alleged error in carrying out their duties which resulted in financial loss to another party. This would normally involve a breach of trust or a breach of duty.

The crucial point in each of these scenarios is that the committee must be considered negligent for the policy to pay damages. However, if the committee were to be taken to court and found not to be negligent, the policy would pay the legal fees.

If you have any specific queries regarding insurance, you can address them to Martyn Ingram at Norris & Fisher –


Insuring your village hall and activities

I have recently been made aware of the Norris & Fisher Village Hall Insurance website and blog, it is full of useful information and well worth a look.  The blog has many helpful and informative articles for Trustees – as an example – Hirer’s liability for short mat bowls clubs, which is a popular activity at most of our village halls.  To take a look at the website and blog please click on the link below:


Have you reviewed your employment policies recently?

Why wait until you hit a problem?  It is always good practice to keep all your policies under review on a rolling basis and to ensure all members of your management committee are aware of the policies you have in place and of any changes that are required.

The ACRE library (accessed via your membership login details) of information sheets offers helpful advice and guidance along with useful templates designed specifically for village halls and community buildings. When reviewing your employment and volunteering policies take a look at information sheet 22, which has guidance for you to follow. It is also worth referring to the Health and Safety legislation information sheet (15) ensuring all your members of staff and volunteers are adequately protected when carrying out their tasks.

Have you ensured changes to the minimum wage have been applied? The hourly National Minimum wage increased as from 1st October 2016.

All members of a management committee have a number of legal responsibilities which they should take into account when considering employment issues. Reviewing your policies also allows the management committee to discuss any changes in legislation, especially around national minimum wage, national living wage, pensions and health and safety which need prompt action.

There is a legal duty for employers to keep detailed records of pay, hours worked, tax, national insurance, statutory sick pay and statutory maternity pay. It is also important to keep details about employees, e.g. next of kin, address, job description, etc.

Every employer of more than five persons must have a written health and safety policy which should be brought to the attention of each employee (particularly new staff). The majority of village halls have fewer than 5 employees, or only use volunteers and are not obliged to have a health and safety policy, however, we would strongly recommended you draw one up.

A health and safety policy is the foundation on which to develop health and safety procedures and practices. The policy announces the level of commitment of those who manage or are responsible for the organisation towards good health and safety standards. The policy can help to clarify procedures and areas of responsibility. If an organisation uses volunteers, they should always be included in the health and safety policy, as a matter of good practice. The HSE have examples of model health and safety policies which can be used as a template.

All village hall employees and workers must be paid the National Minimum Wage. A village hall management committee should be fully aware of the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 and the Working Time Regulations 1998 because they lay down the required obligations (e.g. maintaining workers records) and failure to comply could result in criminal proceedings against the committee. ACRE strongly recommends that village halls obtain a copy of the guidance issued by HSE and ACAS which can be obtained via links included.

There is excellent advice and support available to help you find your way through what can be a very complex area. ACAS also offer a helpline to advise and support.

If you have any further questions relating to any policy matters please get in touch.

If you have forgotten your membership login details, please let us know and we can forward this to you so you can access the full library of information sheets.