The Charity Commission has opened a new waiver system for people who are at risk of being disqualified under the regulator’s upcoming rule changes for people holding senior positions at a charity.
The new rules, which come in on 1 August, will mean more people with criminal records for sex offences, terrorism and money laundering will be barred from senior roles, and people who are barred from trusteeship will also be disqualified from senior staff posts.
But yesterday the Commission started accepting applications for people who might be affected by the changes but wish to remain as a trustee or other senior position at a charity.
“We encourage you to apply as soon as possible, ideally by 1 June 2018, to get a decision in good time,” the regulator said.
Tracey Crouch, charities minister, said: "These provisions rightly strengthen the protection of charities to ensure they are properly managed. However the participation of ex-offenders in running organisations can be positive for both the charity and the individual, so I encourage anyone who believes they may be eligible for a waiver to apply."
Sarah Atkinson, director of policy and communications at the Commission, said: “It will sometimes be in the best interests of a charity to employ or have on the board someone with a previous conviction of this kind.
“We have worked closely with umbrella bodies and rehabilitation charities to ensure that those affected are treated fairly and proportionately and are sufficiently informed about the changes and options open to them.”
Guidance form Unlock
To coincide with this, Unlock, umbrella body for people with convictions, published guidance yesterday for people applying for a waiver.
Christopher Stacey, co-director of Unlock, said: “We would rather not have had to write this guidance. We believe the changes to the rules are unnecessary and ineffective.
“But as they are coming in, people need to act now. It’s important that neither individuals nor charities think that these changes mean people with criminal records can’t be involved in charities – they can and they should.
“Understanding of the current rules is low, so it won’t be surprising if these changes are met with confusion and uncertainty by charities. Charities will need to update their recruitment processes to reflect the changes to the rules.”
Anne Fox, chief executive officer of criminal justice umbrella organisation Clinks, said: “At Clinks we know that people with convictions have as much to offer civil society and the voluntary sector as anyone else. We believe that with the right support every individual can transform their lives.
“It is vital that organisations understand and prepare for these changes and how they might affect their trustees and senior staff. We are delighted to be working with Unlock to support the sector to do this.”