ISSUE 14, July 2005

Editorial
The King and the Craft
Quarterly Communication: Speech of the Grand Master and Speech of the Pro Grand Master and Report of the Board of General Purposes Supreme Grand Chapter: Speech of the Pro First Grand Principle and Report of the Committee of General Purposes Grand Lodge dues: Message from the President of the Board of General Purposes
    Masonic Housing: Major changes Finance: Choosing an investment manager Travel: Tantalising Tunisia Goose and Gridiron: Historic Masonic unveiling Extravaganza: Hollywood comes to Grand Lodge Masonic Events: Day of Fun and Medical, University and Legal Lodges' Festival Education: Sheffield Masonic Library and Forthcoming events and The Entered Apprentice Specialist Lodges: Revving up to success and where eagles dare International: The horror of Phuket and Grand Charity team visit disaster area Library and Museum: Fraternal societies Masonic Charities: NMSF and RMBI and RMTGB and Grand Charity
Obituaries, Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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Major changes for Masonic housing

The Masonic Charitable Housing (MCH) is a small Industrial and Provident Society (formerly known as the Masonic Housing Association), which was formed a little over 25 years ago to operate schemes of Category 2 Sheltered Retirement Housing.
    There are five schemes at present, situated at Prebendal Close (Buckinghamshire), Palmer Court (Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire), Hamilton Court (Essex), Reading Court (Warwickshire) and Wilson Keys Court (Staffordshire). MCH is having to face up to certain factors which may seriously affect its future. The MW the Pro Grand Master has asked me, as chairman, to explain the position for the better understanding of the Craft.
    Following the Housing Act 1974, the Housing Corporation was established to encourage, support and assist to finance and regulate social housing schemes.
    The Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI) wished to be associated with this initiative, but regulations precluded the Housing Corporation from supporting existing charities. Hence, the Masonic Housing Association was formed as an independent body, but alongside the RMBI.
    As an Industrial and Provident Society it was not a charity per se, but had charitable status for Inland Revenue purposes. In round figures, the investment in the five schemes amounted to 6m in land and buildings. This has been financed as to 4.5m (75%) by Social Housing Grants from the Housing Corporation, 600k (14%) by Masonic donations and the balance by loans from the Housing Corporation, which have since been repaid out of operating surpluses. The Social Housing Grants are repayable in certain circumstances, such as a sale of the underlying property.
    In its 25 years of life, MCH has operated successfully and has retirement schemes of which it can be very proud. The properties are in good order and maintained to a high standard.
    The envy of other housing schemes is such that MCH schemes are each supported by a local House Committee comprising Freemasons and their ladies, who add enormously to the comfort of our nearly 200 residents. Not only do they manage each scheme on a local basis, but they organise social events and raise funds to provide extras in the schemes for the pleasure of the residents.
    The Housing Corporation would not allow MCH to restrict its residents to those qualified through Freemasonry, and at present well under half the residents have had no previous connection with the Craft.
    That is a splendid way in which the Craft reaches out into a community to provide benefits to non-Masons. In that respect it differs from the RMBI, which is bound by its Constitution to support only persons qualified through a Masonic connection. It follows, therefore, that MCH and the RMBI cannot operate as a single organisation.

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