The Charity Finance Group has criticised planned changes to the Charity Commission annual return, which will require charities to declare sources of funding from overseas.
Last week the Home Office announced that as part of initiatives to tackle terrorism the Charity Commission would be asking charities to disclose overseas funding sources.
The Commission confirmed that this would be done using the next iteration of the annual return, which is due to be finalised in a few weeks’ time.
But Caron Bradshaw, chief executive of the Charity Finance Group, said there had been “no public discussion about this change” and that the measure might not provide enforcement agencies with useful information.
She said: “Charities have a central role in the fight against radicalisation through the work that they do supporting vulnerable people and communities; diverting them away from darker paths. However, it is vital that steps taken to combat extremism are proportionate and effective.”
‘Number of concerns’
CFG has a number of concerns and has called for a full public consultation before changes are introduced.
Bradshaw added: “We have a number of concerns about how requiring charities to declare overseas sources of funding will give useful information to the Charity Commission and help law enforcement. It is important that the desire to do something, does not lead us wasting resources that could be better used.
“There has been no public discussion about this change, as there has been in the past with other specific measures proposed by the Commission for the annual Return. It is important that there is a full consultation before this measure is introduced so that the right decisions are made.”
The Commission consulted on the 2017 annual return at the beginning of this year and made no mention of disclosing overseas funding sources.
Last week a spokeswoman for the Commission said that: "This change is part of our wider work to align the charity's annual return with the strategic risks facing charities and to ensure that charities are only asked to respond to question areas that are relevant to their work.
"Most respondents (83 per cent) to a consultation we held last year on developments to the annual return agreed that we should take a risk-based approach. This is information that the public would expect a modern, risk-based regulator to hold on charities, and to make available for the purposes of accountability and transparency.
“Our plans to do this were already being proposed and developed before some of the issues raised by the government’s extremism funding review were highlighted. Charities are already required to declare their overseas expenditure.”
Other sector representatives are also understood to be seeking clarity from the Commission.