RIFT Social Enterprise, a not for profit organisation, was established in January 2018 by RIFT Group’s Chairman, Jan Post

Engage, Empower, Employ

With around 84,550 people imprisoned in England and Wales, we’re looking over the edge of a major employment crisis.

Statistically speaking, just 26.5% of offenders are likely to find work on release from a prison sentence. With that in mind, it’s easy to understand why the reoffending rates for offenders are so high. Accommodation, debt, finance and mental health issues are some of the barriers that reduce the likelihood of offenders being able to re-enter the workforce or start their own businesses.

Over 50% of prisoners released go on to reoffend within the first 12 months of their release. For those serving sentences of under 12 months, those figures rise to 60%. All told, this is costing the taxpayer around £4.5 billion a year.

The social, economic and environmental benefits of supporting offenders to break the reoffending cycle are immense. RIFT Social Enterprise is building a pathway to sustainable employment for offenders both inside and outside of the prison walls.

Please contact Andy Gullick on agullick@RIFTgroup.com for more details.


What makes RIFT Social Enterprise different?

Andy Gullick, Chief Executive of RIFT Social Enterprise has been a Prison Governor in three prisons as well as a Senior Probation Officer and MAPPA Manager. This experience gives him an unparalleled understanding of both the prison system and the limitations that prisons operate under. He is committed to giving prisoners the best possible chances of successful rehabilitation.

We believe that our specialist advice service is not currently available in any other prison; even those that have Finance, Benefit and Debt support services. In our experience approximately 50% of all prisoners would be eligible to receive and benefit from our services.

As a Social Enterprise any profits are re-invested back into the business to allow RIFT to offer services to a wider pool of prisoners.

RIFT Social Enterprise is the only organisation to our knowledge that offers a dedicated one to one tax advice service to prisoners and bespoke training on becoming self-employed.

Testimonials

We are delighted to be part of this innovative pilot project which enables our men to address tax issues whilst in custody. This positively impacts upon residents when they return to society and we believe this also reduces their risk of re-offending

Steve Phillips, Head of Reducing Re-offending, HMP Highpoint

I wish that there had been someone like RIFT to support me with my tax affairs when I first came into prison

A prisoner at HMP Stocken

We recognised that there was a gap in provision for the men who had tax issues and we are delighted that RIFT have been able to plug that gap during a pilot period

Russ Truman, Head of Reducing Reoffending at HMP Stocken

Arriving at Prison is a stressful experience, and it is all too easy to lose sight of the important things that continue to need your attention on the outside. One such matter is that of your affairs with HMRC, especially if you are self-employed or a director of a limited company.

On my arrival at HMP (anonymised), information was collected from me by one of the charity workers and passed to HMRC so that they were aware I was in custody. This was purely so that they could continue to communicate with me effectively and not to elicit a ‘pause’ of my affairs; a common misconception among inmates it transpired.

It was important to me that I proactively settled my affairs, as it was clear that failing to do so would result in significant fines, as the HMRC process does not allow for or accommodate any kind of relief when in custody. I am lucky enough to have someone on the outside whom can get access to my records which enabled me to complete my return. It would have been almost impossible for me to comply with my obligations to HMRC were it not for their help, and I can understand why so many of the men I meet bury their heads in the sand.

The reality is that HMRC will not go away, and if matters are not dealt with now, then they will surely be waiting for release day! My main concern was that they would seek to instigate proceedings for non-compliance once I was released, and this could potentially result in my being subject to recall for a breach of licence. Whilst an extreme outcome, it is nonetheless possible and I would strongly advise everyone to think carefully about it.

I look back now and can see that having someone with whom I could speak to whilst in custody, in confidence and who would be in my corner so to speak, would have been an invaluable help.

A prisoner at HMP Stocken

Our Services

RIFTOne2One

One to One advice sessions with prisoners and those on licence or community orders who have either been in employment prior to prison (PAYE) and are therefore eligible to a refund of overpayment of tax, or those that were self-employed or CIS prior to prison and did not complete their self-assessment tax return on time and are therefore potentially accruing penalties.

A significant number of people have not completed their self-assessment tax return because either:

  • they didn’t think they had to as they were in prison
  • they haven’t received any correspondence from HMRC informing them of such – this is because HMRC are not told that they are in prison.

A late submission of a tax return results in an immediate fine then an ongoing accrual of daily fines to the tune of £1600 per year. If men are released from prison without having addressed these fines, they are liable to prosecution and possible recall.

These advice sessions also cover men who were in the military or working under CIS and who are potentially entitled to a multitude of tax refunds due to their travel to and from home whilst working at a temporary base, meal allowances, overnight stays etc.

RIFTPathway

A one day course offering specific advice including the nuts and bolts of becoming self-employed, including topics such as: cash-flow; profit margins; insurance; VAT etc. This course will equip participants with the knowledge and understanding of the opportunities and potential risks pertaining to becoming self-employed or operating as a sole trader and running a business.

RIFTWorks

Developed in collaboration with Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI) this 3 day course focuses on developing the skills, attributes and resilience required for self-employment and includes the provision of dedicated support form a RIFT caseworker after the course has ended.

Everyone who attends one of these courses will receive three months’ support from a RIFT tax specialist on release and we will also pay for them to be registered with HMRC as self-employed.

EM: didn't file his tax return for 2016/17 as he had been sent to prison. He has recently been sent a letter from HMRC stating that he owes them £1500 for non-filing of his tax return. We will be able to put a stop to any accrual of penalties plus should be able to get the 2017/18 penalties wiped clean.

RS: we filed a claim on his behalf for a refund of travel expenses incurred when he was in the army and travelled home from his temporary base over an 18-month period. We were able to send a cheque to his nominated person (his mother) for 100% of the value of the refund he was due - £976

KA: wants to start his own business when he is released in six months-time but believes that he may have outstanding debts with HMRC for late-filing of his Self-Assessment tax return in 2016. We will be able to liaise with HMRC and establish his current situation.

CY: Did not realise that he needed to let HMRC know that he was in prison and therefore has not submitted a nil return for the last four years. HMRC have now identified his location and sent him a demand for £8000 in penalties. We will support him in reducing this amount to around £800 and will set up a repayment plan so that his debts should be cleared prior to his release.

GS: was in employment (PAYE) before he got sent to prison last October. He didn't realise he had overpaid tax and we were able to get him £130 back as a tax refund which he plans on using towards a deposit on a flat when he gets released.

Q&A with Jan Post

RIFT Chairperson Jan Post on RIFT Social Enterprise