The Public Administration Select Committee should examine whether the Charity Commission should regulate fundraising, to avoid confusion and minimise the overall costs of regulating the sector, the National Audit Office (NAO) has suggested.
The idea is one of 15 proposed by the NAO, that the Committee might want to consider in future inquiries regarding the charity sector.
It has published a briefing paper which pulls together various pieces of information on the current landscape of charity regulation and the sector more generally, and suggests issues that could warrant further investigation.
The 15 issues are:
- Whether the Charity Commission can maintain public trust and confidence in charities, given its declining resources
- Whether trustees and other stakeholders can fulfil their roles well enough for the Commission to rely heavily on them
- Whether the Commission’s role is broad enough to meet stakeholder expectations; for example it has no role in ensuring that charities invest their resources appropriately or wisely, unless trustees act outside of their powers
- How far the Commission uses the best practice of other sector regulators or learns from their experiences
- How far HMRC’s role in recognising charitable status creates potential confusion or gaps in the regulatory regime
- Whether the Commission should regulate areas that it currently does not cover, such as fundraising, to avoid confusion and to minimise the overall costs of regulating the charity sector
- Whether regulation extends widely enough, given the large numbers of unregistered charities, which make up more than half of the charity sector by income
- Whether the regulatory framework sufficiently considers the public’s perception of what is and is not a charity
- Whether the reputational risks to charities associated with organisations that work in the public interest but which are not charities, are acceptable
- How far small charities are adequately supported by the current regulatory arrangements
- Whether the government and regulators sufficiently understand the small charities sector
- Whether the government understands the impacts of its action on the charity sector
- Whether moves to contract with the charity sector are compromising its ability to remain independent
- The effectiveness of reporting on public benefit in increasing transparency; and
- How far donors and other interested stakeholders can put pressure on charities to use their resources efficiently
Issues the PASC has examined in the past include the Big Society and charities’ spend on advertising and campaigning.