George Foulkes, member of Scottish parliament for the Lothians, has lodged a motion calling for regulation of charity street workers to bring an end to the “discourteous methods” of some face-to-face fundraisers in Scotland.
Foulkes, who became an MSP in March last year following a 35-year career in UK politics, advised he believes that some street workers place “undue pressure” on passers-by to donate to charity and that the actions of a “significant minority” of charity street workers could have a “detrimental impact on the sector with fewer people making contributions”.
Foulkes posed the motion for consideration in the Scottish Parliament last week and has called for detail on what regulations are currently in place for charity street workers, how many are currently registered, and how many are being paid commission.
His questions will be answered in the parliamentary session on 1 March.
The Public Fundraising Regulatory Association is responsible for the regulation of face-to-face fundraisers across the UK including in Scotland but face-to-face legislation in Scotland is controlled by the Scottish Parliament. PFRA has reported a "significantly more flexible attitude" to street face-to-face in Scotland, allowing charities to fundraise with informal agreements rather than more formal site management agreements, and no licence is required for fundraisers.
But a spokesman for the regulator advised that it doesn't believe that street fundraisers are using discourteous methods: "We just don't believe that's true. The complaints statistics don't reflect that. And just asking people for a donation is not harrassment," he said, advising that he would guess there are only around 30-40 street fundraisers in Scotland.
However Foulkes advises that he has written to the Justice Secretary asking him to ensure all charity street workers require a license and for a number of regulations to be implemented to prevent fundraisers blocking people's path, following them down the street or pressuring people into donating.
The Scotsman reported that Edinburgh's business leaders are planning to introduce regulations to restrict the locations and dates on which face-to-face fundraisers can work. But this is not enough, says Foulkes:
"The majority of charity street workers are affable and courteous. However I have concerns regarding a significant minority. It is essential that we clamp down on this sort of behaviour as it could have a negative impact on the charity sector at large," he said.