We have now published the initial conclusions and next steps, following the first stage of our review.
The public and the charity sector warmly endorse the role of the independent regulator in protecting the public interest in charity and holding charities accountable for the privileges of charitable status. They also endorse the Charity Commission’s general approach and recognise our improved effectiveness – there is no support for complete and radical change.
There is however support for a clearer focus on our core regulatory role and responsibilities – this combines with the financial imperatives of our funding reduction of 33% in real terms over the next four years. We will need to concentrate our resource on the activities which only we as independent regulator can carry out.
The Commission’s core purpose as regulator is to protect and serve the public interest in the integrity of charity. We do not exist to act on behalf of charities, although in effectively regulating them we support them and their activities. We deliver against our purpose through our core regulatory activities – registering charities, providing guidance to trustees to enable them to manage their charity effectively, ensuring charities are accountable through us to the public by requiring and publishing information, giving permissions as required in law, and taking action to deal with serious mismanagement or abuse of charity.
In focusing more clearly on our core role and responsibilities, we need to rebalance the relationship between the regulator and the sector: reinforcing the confidence and self-reliance of charities to make their own decisions within the legal boundaries wherever possible, minimising our intervention in individual charities, and promoting the accountability of charities to the public.
You can see the full note of our conclusions and the next steps here.
The Board has agreed a number of projects to develop the detailed plans needed to underpin our future strategy. These are:
- Agree a new single risk and proportionality framework to set out our regulatory approach and promote clear and consistent decision-making
- Work with umbrella bodies and charities to develop our signposting and create partnerships which will, in time, enable them to take responsibility for individual advice to charities in most areas (we will also review and agree those limited areas where the Commission must continue to provide individual advice)
- Review the information we require from charities and the ways in which we publish, display, share and use it
- Develop a ‘peer review’ scheme involving experienced people from within the charity sector to help individual charities, and the Commission, identify risks
- Consider opportunities to reduce the regulatory burden of legal permissions and consents, including self-certification and increasing thresholds
These projects will involve further external and internal discussion and consultation. We have already been in touch with some key stakeholders and will be publishing more details for comment in due course.
The Board have also agreed an integrated project, led by the Chief Executive, to devise a new organisational structure for the Commission, identify our accommodation requirements for the future, and undertake a skills audit. These will be the subject of further internal consultation during March and April with the aim of setting out the new structure, formally consulting on it and starting to implement the changes from early May.
Some of the issues identified through the consultation relate to primary legislation and can only be addressed through the forthcoming review of the 2006 Charities Act which the Office of Civil Society is expected to lead some time this year. The Commission will be developing our approach to the review of the Act as part of our own strategic review. We will also continue to consider possible options for the future funding of our work, although it is clear that no change to our funding regime could take effect before 2015/16.
We are deeply grateful to all those who contributed to the review for their time and the quality of their responses, and continue to welcome comments on this blog or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org