Share

Charities Act gets vote of approval from charity law experts

Baroness Howe of Idlicote, chair of the NCVO Charity Law Review Advisory Group
News

Charities Act gets vote of approval from charity law experts

Governance | Tania Mason | 16 May 2012

The Charities Act 2006 has, overall, proved to be a good piece of legislation that is fit for purpose, the NCVO Charity Law Review Advisory Group has concluded.

Even subjects that have sparked heated debate, such as payment of trustees or the status of the Charity Commission, are, upon closer inspection, "dealt with by the law in a satisfactory manner”, the Group said in their submission to Lord Hodgson’s official review of the Act.

“Rather it is other factors, such as the economic downturn, the recent budget announcements and the public service contracting environment, that are of far greater concern,” they concluded.

However, the group did make some recommendations to improve the legal and regulatory framework for charities. These included:

  • The government, the devolved administrations, the sector’s three regulators and HMRC should try to agree a “single definition of charity and a single public benefit requirement for the whole of the UK, which would also apply for tax purposes”.
  • Further legislation is “highly desirable” to clarify the law on public benefit, “but this should not be an attempt to produce a comprehensive definition of the public benefit requirement”.
  • There should be a full consultation on the possible creation of a charities Ombudsman and the details of how it should operate.
  • The Charity Commission should publish statistics about the number of individual trustees who have been required to make payments to their charity because they breached their trustee duties. This should help to reassure prospective trustees about the level of risk involved in the role.
  • Funders with an interest in governance should undertake further research into whether paying trustees helps with recruitment, diversity and improved governance.
  • The Charity Commission, HMRC and Companies House should co-ordinate the type of information they ask for, and end the current duplication of reporting requirements. “In particular, all regulators should take steps to adopt the same type of software in order to enable the standardisation of data collected”. This should be fit fir purpose for all types of charity, and affordable.
  • Self-regulation of fundraising is working, but stronger sanctions are desirable. A full consultation should be carried out to explore various options and their implications; a model similar to the Advertising Standards Authority should be considered in particular. But financial penalties should only be introduced as a last resort, because of the detriment caused to the charity and the fact it is donors’ money at stake.
  • The inherent unfairness of the current public collections regime needs to be addressed so that charities are not disadvantaged compared with commercial collectors. 
  • The Charity Commission’s core public benefit guidance should be much simpler and shorter.
  • Public benefit reporting should be extended to all exempt and excepted charities to improve accountability.

Charity Commission funding and independence

Regarding the funding of the Charity Commission, the group decided no other funding model is more appropriate than the one currently in place.

It said it hoped that the current tight budget would be reviewed as soon as economic conditions allowed, but that in the meantime it is “not appropriate or advisable for the Commission to implement money-raising strategies such as one-off charges or the introduction of penalties”.

The group also specifically considered the Charity Commission’s independence from government, acknowledging that certain media have portrayed its current chair, Dame Suzi Leather, as having close links to the Labour government that appointed her to the role.

But it concluded that “such portrayals are inherent in any high-profile appointment, where the incumbent’s political leanings or previous activities may be juxtaposed with the responsibilities of the current job”, and added there is no hard evidence that the Commission does not operate independently from government.

The advisory group is chaired by Baroness Howe of Idlicote (pictured). The other members are:

Comments

[Cancel] | Reply to:

Close »

Community Standards

The civilsociety.co.uk community and comments board is intended as a platform for informed and civilised debate.

We hope to encourage a broad range of views, however, there are standards that we expect commentators to uphold. We reserve the right to delete or amend any comments that do not adhere to these standards.

We welcome:

  • Robust but respectful debate
  • Strongly held opinions
  • Intelligent relevant discussion
  • The sharing of relevant experiences
  • New participants

We will not publish:

  • Rude, threatening, offensive, obscene or abusive language, or links to such material
  • Links to commercial organisations or spam postings. The comments board is not an advertising platform
  • The posting of contact details for yourself or others
  • Comments intended for malicious purpose or mindless abuse
  • Comments purporting to be from another person or organisation under false pretences
  • Gratuitous criticism, commentary or self-promotion
  • Any material which breaches copyright or privacy laws, or could be considered libellous
  • The use of the comments board for the pursuit or extension of personal disputes

Be aware:

  • Views expressed on the comments board are left at users’ discretion and are in no way views held or supported by Civil Society Media
  • Comments left by others may not be accurate, do not rely on them as fact
  • You may be misunderstood - sarcasm and humour can easily be taken out of context, try to be clear

Please:

  • Enjoy the opportunity to express your opinion and respect the right of others to express theirs
  • Confine your remarks to issues rather than personalities

Together we can keep our community a polite, respectful and intelligent platform for discussion.

Free eNews

NCVO and Third Sector Research Centre to create a data bank of 10,000 charities

26 Mar 2015

NCVO and the Third Sector Research Centre are to create a data resource to track ten years of voluntary...

Navca restructures and makes redundancies to ensure it is sustainable

26 Mar 2015

The National Council for Voluntary Action will make four redundancies as part of a three-year plan to...

One in seven charities 'struggling to survive', say CAF and Acevo

24 Mar 2015

One in seven charities are struggling to survive, according to a report released today by the Charities...

Macmillan Cancer Support announces £3m corporate partnership with owners of Argos

27 Mar 2015

Macmillan has today announced that it is launching a two-year partnership with Home Retail Group, which...

IoF and government launch 'memorandum of understanding' on payroll giving

26 Mar 2015

The Institute of Fundraising and the Treasury have agreed a new ‘memorandum of understanding’ to improve...

Introduce separate legislation for commercial 'umbrella' lotteries, say MPs

25 Mar 2015

Separate legislation requiring higher payouts to charity should be introduced to govern larger commercial...

Social media 'slacktivism' encourages people to donate, finds JustGiving report

18 Mar 2015

People who share a fundraising page on social media are four times more likely to donate than those who...

Samaritans closes Twitter monitoring app permanently

11 Mar 2015

Samaritans has confirmed that it has permanently closed its app that was designed to monitor people’s...

Daniel Phelan dies, aged 58

13 Feb 2015

Daniel Phelan, owner and editor-in-chief of Civil Society Media, passed away on Wednesday following a...

Join the discussion

Twitter
 
Training

Attending our one day courses is a highly effective way of ensuring new and existing trustees fully understand their role, responsibilities and liabilities.

>> Find out more <<