Press release

Big Society red tape purge

Lord Hodgson will lead a new taskforce to flush out bureaucracy in the voluntary sector, the government has announced.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Lord Hodgson will lead a new taskforce to flush out bureaucracy in the voluntary sector, the government has announced.

The the Big Society De-regulation Taskforce aims to make it easier to run charities, voluntary groups and social enterprises. Ministers hope that reducing bureaucratic burdens will free-up time and resources for these organisations to make a difference in their communities and help mobilise the Big Society.

Civil Society Minister Nick Hurd welcomed the announcement. He said:

This is a tough time for small civil society organisations and we want to make life easier for them. So I have asked for specific ideas on how we can thin the thicket of bureaucracy and regulation that too often gets in the way. I see it very simply. Every pound or hour we can save a small voluntary organisation is a pound or hour that could be better spent.

The taskforce will consider the full range of burdens that fall on small civil society organisations. It will make recommendations about how red-tape should be reduced, including changes to legislation or processes that are needed. 

It will decide which particular areas it will focus on, but this might include responsibilities of trustees and directors, employment law and contractual arrangements when civil society organisations provide public services.

Lord Hodgson, who has spent his career advising and working for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), is currently President of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and as Shadow Minister in the House of Lords, led for the Conservative Party on the proceedings of the Charities Act 2006.

He will be joined on the taskforce by Andrew Hind, retiring Chief Executive of the Charity Commission; Lynne Berry, Chief Executive WRVS; David Tyler, Chief Executive Community Matters; Sir Graham Melmoth, retiring Chair NCVO and past Chief Executive Co-operative Group; and David Thompson, Chair of Marstons PLC.

Business and Enterprise Minister Mark Prisk said:

We need to swing the balance back in favour of entrepreneurial spirit. We want to make sure that charities spend more time on their valuable work to support our communities.

This taskforce will build on previous research into burdens on small business to look at how we can encourage more people to work together to improve their communities and help one another. Lord Hodgson has assembled a very strong team and I look forward to their recommendations.

Lord Hodgson said:

I have accepted this role because I believe that the government is serious about cutting the burden of red tape for civil society groups.  I relish this opportunity to try to thin out the red tape that puts people off doing more for their communities and that holds back innovative small organisations from growth. I’m very grateful to the taskforce members who have volunteered the benefit of their significant expertise to this important work. I hope very much that the sector will not be backward in coming forward to identify areas where bureaucracy can be reduced and make practical recommendations for action - this is their chance.

Apart from making its own recommendations, the taskforce will also work with other initiatives, such as Lord Young’s Health and Safety review, to help ensure that cuts to red tape are made in ways that are properly joined up and will consider or feed into related work, including:

  • HM Treasury and HM Revenue and Customs review of bureaucracy associated with Gift Aid
  • Home Office work on the criminal records and vetting and barring regime.

Notes to editors

  1. The taskforce is time limited and will report to ministers early in 2011. The chair and members will be unpaid.
  2. Lord (Robin) Hodgson of Astley Abbotts CBE, MA, was educated at Shrewsbury School and Oxford University where he read Modern History. He spent 5 years in the USA including 2 years taking an MBA at the Wharton School of Finance. On his return to the UK, he established Granville Plc - a specialist investment banking business which he built up until it was sold to Robert W. Baird, a US Investment bank, in 1999. He took a keen interest in City regulation being a founder director of the Securities and Investment Board (SIB) and a director of the Securities and Futures Authority (SFA). He now holds a number of non-executive chairmanships and directorships - Marston’s Plc, Nova Capital Management Ltd, RFIB Group Ltd and Tenet Ltd. In the 1970s he was a Parliamentary candidate unsuccessfully fighting the Labour seat of Walsall North in February and October 1974.  He then won the seat at a by-election in 1976 holding it until 1979. He then became active on the voluntary side of the Conservative Party serving as Treasurer and Chairman in the West Midlands. He was elected to the National Union becoming its Chairman in 1996. He played a leading role in the reorganisation of the Conservative Party following the 1997 General Election. As a result he became Deputy Chairman from 1997 to 2000 when he was made a Life Peer. He was a Front Bench spokesman on Trade and Industry and Home Affairs 2002-06 in particular leading on the Companies Act 2006 and Charities Act 2006.
  3. Lynne Berry is WRVS’ third chief executive and was appointed in September 2007 having joined that organisation from the General Social Care Council. Previously she worked at the Equal Opportunities Commission and before that was executive director of the Charity Commission and chief executive of the Family Welfare Association. Her earlier career has spanned central and local government, higher education, management development and training, community development and social work. She was responsible for work on complaints procedures for users of social services both as a member of the Social Services Inspectorate and at the National Institute for Social Work. She has been a board member of many voluntary organisations and charities.  She was vice-chair of the Commission on the Future of the Voluntary Sector in England and Chair of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation report on Governance in the Voluntary Sector and a member of the Risk and Regulation Advisory Council and the Third Sector Advisory Body.
  4. David Tyler is Chief Executive of Community Matters, the umbrella organisation for community associations and similar multi purpose community organisations. He is also chair of the Community Sector Law Monitoring Group. Long experience in that area and been involved in many campaigns to boost the community sector.
  5. Andrew Hind leaves his post at the Charity Commission in September 2010 having joined as its first chief executive in 2004.  Before that he was chief operating officer of the BBC World Service. Andrew has extensive experience of working with the charity sector. He was a senior executive with ActionAid (1986-1991) and Barnardo’s (1992-1995) before moving to the BBC in 1995. Andrew has also served as a trustee of several major charities, including VSO, the UK Committee for UNICEF, the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund and a number of smaller charities in his local community in North London. Andrew was co-founder in 1988 of the Charity Finance Directors’ Group (CFDG) - an organisation promoting excellence in financial management for charities. He was Chair of CFDG from 1992-1994. He is the author of ‘The Governance and Management of Charities’, and a former judge of the National Charity Awards. Andrew received the Outstanding Achievement Award for long-standing commitment and service to the voluntary sector at the Charity Awards 2008.
  6. Sir Graham Melmoth was elected Chair of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) in February 2004, and became a  trustee of the Charities Aid Foundation at the same time. He retired from the Co-operative Group in September 2002 after six years as Chief Executive. He also initiated the Co-operative Commission, chaired by John Monks. Prior to his appointment as CEO, Sir Graham was the Cooperative Society’s Secretary, and served as a director of the Cooperative Bank and the CIS, amongst others. Before this, he worked for BOC, Fisons and Letraset.During his time in the sector, Graham has been a trustee of NACRO (National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders) and the New Lanark Conservation Trust, and a Council Member of Public Concern at Work. Until his retirement he was also Chairman of Manchester Enterprises, the not-for-profit regeneration group, working in partnership with most of the ten Greater Manchester local authorities.
  7. David Thompson joined Marston’s PLC in 1977 and was appointed to the Board in 1980. He was appointed Managing Director in 1986 and Chairman in 2002. He is also a non executive director of Persimmon PLC, Tribal Group PLC, Caledonia Investments PLC, Anglia Maltings (Holdings) Limited and Smiths Flour Mills Limited.
Published 17 August 2010