Lords committee set to scrutinise charity regulator’s ‘independence and accountability’

20 Oct 2023 News

House of Lords chamber

A House of Lords committee has announced it will investigate regulators including the Charity Commission over their roles, remit, independence and how they are held accountable.

The inquiry, opened by the Industry and Regulators Committee this week, will focus on regulators that “have a statutory role established by parliament and are organised as public bodies”.

It will look at the relationship between regulators and the government and areas including the effectiveness of regulators and the role of parliament in scrutinising them.

A Charity Commission spokesperson said: “We welcome and will be monitoring the Committee’s inquiry and will participate if invited.”

The Fundraising Regulator is not covered by the inquiry but said it would consider whether to contribute.

‘Vital’ to scrutinise and hold regulators to account

The committee said that after previously examining the work of regulators such as Ofgem, Ofwat and the Office for Students, it is now launching “a short and cross-cutting inquiry into UK regulators as a whole, with a specific focus on roles, remit, independence and accountability”.

This inquiry will look at “whether regulators as a whole have been given a clear job to do and whether their roles and remits are sufficiently discrete from one another”. 

“The inquiry will also examine whether regulators are appropriately independent of government, including whether the right balance is being struck between strategic and political input from government and preserving regulators’ operational independence,” it said. 

It will also examine how regulators should be held accountable for their performance and by whom, including the roles of the government and parliament. 

Lord Hollick, chair of the Industry and Regulators Committee, said that many regulators are public bodies funded by the taxpayer and have significant powers so it is “vital that they are scrutinised and held to account”.

Fundraising Regulator: ‘We’ll consider whether to submit evidence’

The Fundraising Regulator, which is an independent, non-statutory regulator and therefore not organised as a public body, said that it is considering whether to engage with the inquiry by submitting written evidence.

A spokesperson told Civil Society: “The Fundraising Regulator has seen the announcement by the House of Lords Industry and Regulators Committee and its proposals to look at the relationship between regulators and the government. 

“As a voluntary, independent regulator the board will consider the proposals and decide whether to submit written evidence to Lord Hollick’s committee.”

The complete list of questions and details on how to submit evidence by the deadline of Friday 1 December 2023 can be found here.

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