Hogwarts needs to find £1m to retain its charitable status
As the long-anticipated Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince goes on release, accountants Baker Tilly have revealed that Harry Potter's school, Hogwarts, would need to give out almost £1m of bursaries to trainee wizards and witches to allow it to retain its charitable status.
Hogwarts is depicted as a private boarding school in Scotland so would need to satisfy the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator’s public benefit test to be recognised and registered as a charity. By providing £1m of bursaries, Headmaster Albus Dumbledore and his governors would be satisfying this test by opening the doors to trainee wizards and witches who don’t have the funds to pay the full fees themselves.
However, as many private schools across the UK struggle with rising costs from suppliers and parents looking to save money due to the recession, the ability to magic up the necessary bursaries could be far from straightforward as Hogwarts starts to feel the financial pinch.
Commenting on the requirements, Nick Sladden, Partner and Charity and Independent Schools specialist at Baker Tilly said: “Based on JK Rowling’s description of a 600-pupil school, and if this was the only test, it would mean that an annual sum of £976,248 of means tested bursary places would have to be provided to meet the public benefit test. This is based on the bursary provision being a percentage of fee income using the average termly boarding fees published by Independent Schools Council in their 2009 Census”.
“Additionally, charitable independent schools in England and Wales also now need to show exactly what it is that makes them a charity according to this week’s publication of the Charity Commission’s first public benefit assessment. In this assessment five independent schools were reviewed and two were found to not currently be meeting the public benefit requirement. Of the three schools that passed, bursaries were being provided at a level of at least 5% of annual fee income.
"However, we all know that Hogwarts isn’t subjected to the realities that other schools have to face. I’m sure Dumbledore and his colleagues could come up with a magic spell to override such practicalities – although if the recession continues to bite then Hogwarts may have to look into one of their crystal balls to predict the best way to handle their financial affairs.”
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