During the nineties there was a huge growth in supported contact centres run by voluntary groups led by the initiative of Mary Lower, the founder of NACCC. Many of these centres are still running – have adapted to the new challenges and more than likely employ a co-ordinator or administrator to cope with the additional expectations put on voluntary sector organisations in the 21st century. These centres cannot function without the volunteer team – giving their time for free whilst the centre is open and enabling precious relationships to continue. Behind the scenes during the week the co-ordinator and deputy (if they have one) are liaising with potential clients, organising DBS checks, training, keeping accreditation portfolios current. They are organising pre-visits and reviews. They are ensuring that their safeguarding procedures remain up to date and that everyone knows what to do if there are concerns. It may be that your local coordinator is wanting to retire but the thought of employing a member of staff to continue this role is daunting to say the least. Checkout the experience of centres that have taken the step to register as an employer, make use of their local community support organisation and find the funding to employ someone…

Registering as an employer “HMRC held our hand all the way…” 

We spoke with Ros, who is the treasurer at Havant & Waterlooville Child Contact Centres. Her day job is finance manager for a clothing company and this expertise was very useful in sorting out the issues regarding the co-ordinator’s salary. She explained that the centre had assumed that they were not an employer as their payroll had been dealt with externally by Community First in Havant. She explained that HMRC had been very supportive and understanding in getting this sorted… “if you give a gratuity to your co-ordinator and are not registered with HMRC as an employer, the co-ordinator will need to declare this to HMRC in their annual self-assessment as it’s a taxable benefit. Tax will then be paid by the co-ordinator.   Basically, you are not allowed to pay a ‘gratuity’ more than once. If you do, then you are classed as an employer. We could have been fined but HMRC were excellent and held our hand all the way. They will tell you if your centre is an employer or not. A committee member is needed to be the contact point for HMRC. Once we became an employer we then had to set up a pension (even though in our case this is a nil return as our co-ordinator does not work enough hours) and a contract of employment with holiday pay etc. If you are not sure go online or call HMRC employer’s helpline”.

Can your local community infrastructure organisation help?

We spoke with Amber who is the paid co-ordinator at Salisbury Child Contact Centre. She explained “As we are a project of a larger organisation (Wessex Community Action) we have it much easier than many small volunteer-led organisations. WCA already have well established procedures in place for managing staff with a senior manager responsible for staffing. WCA have an accountant within the organisation who deals with all the financial side, including payroll. We are what’s called a Community Voluntary Service (CVS) infrastructure organisation providing a range of services to support voluntary and community organisations across Wiltshire and the surrounding areas. Your local CVS may offer payroll and advise on a range of topics including governance and structures etc. If you don’t have a local CVS you may wish to join the NCVO who support voluntary organisations and who can like a CVS offer a full range of guidance and advice.”

Jon, paid co-ordinator at Andover CCC also told us “On paper I work 5 hrs a week but on average I do at least an hour and a half a night… The payroll is sorted by Tess Valley Community Services – they work out (for a fee) the salary amount and instruct our treasurer accordingly”. As well as all the liaising with families Jon is responsible for grant applications and do the banking as the treasurer now lives 40 miles away. He explained that their Chair does some of the general admin and grant applications, but it is up to him to run the centre. He meets with the management committee every three months.

Depending on your area your local infrastructure organisation/CVS may be able to support and guidance through the process of becoming an employer, paying employees, registering with the HMRC including Payroll set up and Year end reporting and ensuring compliance with Inland Revenue requirements. They also may be able to advise your centre on employing staff for the first time, drawing up a job specification, advertising your vacancy, selecting your candidate, producing a written statement of employment, induction, training and development, supervision, appraisal and grievance. They may also be able to provide sample policies, for example in harassment, redundancy, sickness, family-friendly issues, maternity, paternity, adoption, right to request flexible working, retirement and disciplinary matters.

Finding the funding to employ someone

We spoke with Alix who has been employed at co-ordinator at Tarka Child Contact Centre since 2014. She is the only paid member of staff at the centre and supports 11-15 volunteers helping to run the centre. Alix works with the management committee to fundraise towards the running of centre (and her salary of course) and described their experience “We are fortunate to have some regular funders which bring in £14K-£16K a year. Although our service is free to families we do ask for donations. A local solicitor has a ‘naughty’ jar which helps to generate some funds for us! We’ve created a donation letter saying ‘86 children need your help… £20 can help facilitate….’ and approach the local town councils and solicitors in the areas that clients come from. Our Treasurer is responsible for the payroll and works as a paid Bursa, so she is very experienced in accounts. I am paid for 900 hrs a year which works out about 17 hrs a week).”

Pam, the secretary at St Paul’s Child Contact Centre, Bracknell explained how they managed the transition to becoming an employer back in 2007: “We had relied on Ann our volunteer co-ordinator since 1995 but were suddenly faced with the situation when she was unable to carry on in a voluntary capacity. If we couldn’t employ someone as co-ordinator to carry on the role, the centre would have had to close. We put together a case for 2-3 year’s funding to Berkshire Community Foundation. We were very lucky and were awarded the funding and went through the process of recruitment – interviewing, sorting a contract and so on. It was helpful that our Chairman owned his own business and knew about employment contracts. We pay about £12 an hour for 10 hours a week but know that the going rate would be a lot more… Over the years Ann has helped with applying for various grants including funding from Cafcass. This funding has unfortunately gone down over the last few years, but we have been able to secure 3 years’ worth of funding from Children in Need to cover Ann’s salary and are continuously applying for other grants.” Pam went on to say that they have recently had to update their reserves policy to ensure that their centre is compliant in case of redundancy proceedings…  

The centres in Shropshire introduced a referral charge to help pay towards the fee of their self-employed co-ordinator Valerie and running costs. Valerie does not charge for all her hours as she wanted to continue volunteering as a contribution as well. “To generate funds for my post and running costs for the centres we decided to introduce a referral fee to supplement the Cafcass grant. We’ve set this as £50 and tell everyone immediately. The non-resident parent doesn’t have to pay up front – when they come for their pre-visit they pay half or a token so that we know they are committed – some pay a fiver each time. No-one has been turned away. We also do some fundraising and charge for refreshments.”

Job shares and juggling jobs…

Adele, Chair at Bridge CCC in Hull told us “we’ve always had a salaried administrator, which has always worked very well and sometimes, as at present, the job has been shared between two administrators.  Our two current administrators (who also happen to be sisters-in-law) were internal candidates – they volunteered at the centre and understood its workings.  They and other board members have done loads of fundraising recently.  We thought the centre might have to close last year, but we’ve managed to secure a number of donations this year which is fantastic”.  Adele went on to say that they’d had great support from ERVAS (East Riding Voluntary Action Services) who only charge £30 a quarter to process wages, produce payslips and calculate tax – there are tax implications for the current administrators as in both cases the contact centre is their second job. 

Juggling two jobs brings its challenges as Natalie, (who works 30 hours a month as Co-ordinator at Tonbridge Family Contact Centre) explained “I also work for the NHS and let this job take over. I have now managed to whittle it down to a manageable workload. I have to be quite strict and just take calls and deal with emails on a Friday and run the centre twice a month as well”.  Natalie explained that the treasurer sorts the salary and depending on their funding situation assists with this as well…

Employed or self-employed?

NACCC’s Finance Officer Alan, Tarr writes:

If your centre is considering whether to appoint a paid co-ordinator or indeed has already made the decision, you will need to consider any PAYE (Pay As You Earn) and NI (National Insurance) implications, both to your centre, and to the paid coordinator, or for that matter, any other paid member of staff. Whilst the sums involved may not appear to be “significant” – maybe ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand pounds per annum, anything considered to be “income” or a payment arising from any form of “contract of employment” (whether formal or informal) would be subject to PAYE & NI regulations by HMRC. Please also bear in mind that if your co-ordinator has income from any other source, including an occupational or state pension, then any payment you make to them be taken into account when determining their PAYE / NI liability. Also, how many centres actually have the facility to run a payroll, even for 1 or 2 paid members of staff? Whilst it is difficult to lay down procedures that would be applicable to all centres, the following notes may offer you some guidance.

  1. If your coordinator has a contract of employment or does an agreed number of hours on a regular basis, as laid down by the centre, and for a fixed hourly rate, it would probably be difficult to describe them as anything other than an employee. Under these circumstances the best option would be to record all payments and account for both employer and employee NI, and any PAYE.  This need not be an onerous task. If the centre does not have access to a payroll system (eg Sage Payroll) then the HMRC’s own website does provide a basic tool to help. Please also bear in mind that any personal records that you need to record and pay correctly, must also fall in line with data protection – in particular the new GDPR regulations. For further information on how the HMRC might help, please go to https://www.gov.uk/basic-paye-tools
  2. If your coordinator does “tasks” and decides themselves when and how they work, and are free to decide this, it maybe that they can be classified as “self-employed”. If you feel that this the case, to cover the centre from any exposure to NI & PAYE, it is recommended that the co-ordinator, or other paid member of staff, signs a declaration recognising that they are of self-employed status, and also recognises they are totally responsible themselves for any liability to NI & PAYE. Such an individual should provide the centre with an invoice on a regular basis for the services provided.If you need any further clarification or advice, there is probably no harm in speaking with your local HMRC offices, your local community infrastructure organisation or even seeking advice from a local accountant.

Useful links

NAVCA (England) https://navca.org.uk/find-a-member-1

Wales Council for Voluntary Action https://www.wcva.org.uk/members-partners/third-sector-support-wales





Funding Central – an excellent funding searching website run by NCVO and is free if your organisation’s income is at a low level. You can also subscribe to their weekly funding newsletter tailored to your needs. www.fundingcentral.org.uk

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