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Charity Commission to Place Greater Emphasis on Support

Charity Commission to Place Greater Emphasis on Support

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The Charity Commission has published a revised statement of its regulatory approach and will now place an increased emphasis on its enabling and supportive role. It will focus on promoting compliance by charity trustees with their legal obligations and bolstering the rigour with which it holds charities accountable in its new approach.

In a 10-point statement, the Commission underscores the centrality to its mission of:” supporting trustees and enabling them to comply with their duties; and ensuring that only bodies that properly qualify as charities under the law are registered.”

In addition, the Commission said it would improve the advice and guidance it provides to charity trustees, focusing on financial management, governance, standards of good practice and outcomes for beneficiaries.

The regulator has encountered criticism in recent years for seemingly focusing on the enforcement and compliance aspect of its remit above its commitment to support charities. Paula Sussex, the chief executive of the Commission, who recently announced that she will leave the role at the end of this year, said the revised strategy would “renew further” the Commission’s emphasis on enabling trustees to govern charities more effectively. She said the regulator had at no moment stopped supporting charities, but noted “perhaps the focus and innovation went to our compliance work, and we think we understand that now.”

Ms. Sussex said that in practice the revised approach meant that some of the more straightforward legal permissions that charities sought from the Commission would be streamlined and made “more user-friendly” by use of digital technology.

Eryl Besse, deputy chairman of the Commission, said: “Good governance and strong leadership within charities are imperative in securing public confidence; a vital part of this is enabling trustees to undertake their roles effectively. Today we have published an updated statement of regulatory approach, to place further emphasis on our enablement work and the support we provide for trustees.”

Charity Commission to withdraw “Hallmarks” guidance

The Charity Commission has confirmed that it is prepared to withdraw its publication “Hallmarks of an Effective Charity” (CC10) and refer charities to the new sector-created governance code instead.

A new edition of the Charity Governance Code, outlining a number of updates to the sector’s best practice standard, was published for consultation in November. It was previously known as Good Governance: a Code for the Voluntary and Community Sector and was last updated in 2010.

Revisions to the new code include sections on the importance of charity and board culture and behaviours, how vital diversity is to good governance, the need for increased clarity on good practice in areas including board membership, and more emphasis on values, accountability and transparency. Another section suggests that charities should consider merging or winding up if others are fulfilling similar aims more effectively.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations, the charity leaders network Acevo, the Small Charities Coalition, the governance professionals body the ICSA, the Association of Chairs and the Wales Council for Voluntary Action were among the agencies involved in the development of the revised code.

Sarah Atkinson, director of policy and communications at the Charity Commission, said:

“We intend to continue to endorse and promote it as the standard of good governance practice to which all charities should aspire (unless some other code takes precedence), following and applying its principles proportionately to their circumstances.”

West London’s charity Law experts

IBB Solicitors’ specialist Charities team has over 50 years’ combined experience in delivering practical commercial advice to charities and not for profit organisations and those who work with them. For advice, please contact our solicitors today on 01895 207862 or email charities@ibblaw.co.uk.