Up to 14 companies have been reported as carrying out unlicensed commercial clothing collections for charities by just one borough council.
Data published on the Runnymede Borough Council website shows that in the past seven years, 14 companies have been reported by residents as having distributed and collected charity clothing bags in the area without a licence. Of those, four companies have been reported in the past 12 months: Recycle Proline; SOS Clothes Ltd; Skycycle Ltd and ECS Textiles.
Three claimed not to have been operating in the borough and said they had been impersonated, while Skyecycle admitted they had been collecting without a licence on behalf of the National Hereditary Breast Cancer Helpline.
Civil Society News published a story in January which showed that Skyecycle Ltd, operating on behalf of the National Hereditary Breast Cancer Helpline, had also admitted to operating without a collection licence in Brighton and Hove and in Guildford.
As a result, the Charity Commission warned the Helpline about working with the organisation.
Nine more organisations refused a licence
In addition to the 14 organisations listed as collecting unlawfully, Runnymede also said nine organisations had been refused permission to collect in the area in the last seven years.
Another eight organisations currently have applications for licences pending with the council, five of whom have made those applications within the last 12 months.
The full list of organisations refused licences, found to be collecting without a licence and those who have applications for collection licences pending can be found here.
A spokeswoman for the council said that it generally deals with two enquiries regarding charity collections a month, with more enquiries made in the summer “when companies are more active”.
She also said the council asks licence applicants to “give us at least 28 days’ notice before the proposed collection data” and that generally applications will be approved “within a couple of weeks” unless key information has been left out.