Press release

’Can do’ guidance will make organising volunteer events simpler

Government to publish improved guidance to make it easier for people to organise voluntary events in their communities

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

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The government is to publish improved guidance to make it easier for people to organise voluntary events in their communities, removing inconsistencies and confusion highlighted by a review of existing guidance.

The ‘Can Do’ Events Guidance will contain easy-to-understand information on planning, health and safety, access issues, budgeting, booking and licensing, insurance and use of public land. It will provide useful links to specialist information and advice for sporting and other specialist events, and a ‘myth-buster’ to overcome misconceptions around volunteering.

The commitment follows a Focus on Enforcement review, published today, which examined barriers that hinder the organisation and running of volunteer-led events, such as street parties, charity fundraisers or school fetes.

The review found a lack of clear advice and little consistency in the guidance provided by central and local government bodies. Current guidance often focused more on telling organisers what they cannot do, rather than what they can. Confusing information along with additional burdens sometimes imposed by non-regulatory third parties such as landlords acts as a deterrent to public participation.

It also found that the absence of clear, universal guidance leads to the perception that volunteer events are subject to greater legal and regulatory requirements than is actually the case. This presents a real deterrent to people who would like to organise events.

Business Minister Michael Fallon said:

We want to encourage a ‘can do’ attitude to volunteering, and create a stronger, more responsible society. But the confusing guidance and unnecessary obstacles placed in the way of people who want to organise events to raise money for good causes, or simply bring the community together, are undermining this ambition.

Creating a central point where anyone can access simple guidance on how to run events safely and legally will clear up this mess and help people get on with making a contribution to community life. Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd said:

Organising successful community events is a lot easier to do than people think. The new “Can Do” guidance from the Office for Civil Society will make it clear when licences and other permissions are needed and where to go for specialist guidance. It will set out in plain English how to plan successful and safe events and break the myths that discourage running them.

Operations Director of the Scout Association, Stephen Peck said:

The government has responded to the clear need for better, more streamlined and properly signposted advice for volunteer organisers up and down the country. Everyone benefits if people organising community events to raise money for good causes know that the government wants to work with them, not put obstacles in their way.

The Focus on Enforcement Volunteer Events review consulted individuals and organisations including national charities (or umbrella organisations representing federations), those involved in organising particular events, the insurance industry, local authorities, government departments and regulators.

The new guidance will be produced by the Office for Civil Society, Cabinet Office and will be published later this year. The full Volunteer Events Review findings are at: http://discuss.bis.gov.uk/focusonenforcement/review-findings/

To help all those affected by regulators and their actions understand more about regulators’ responsibilities and how they carry them out, the government has published newly updated data on national regulators. This sets out their remits, regulatory budgets and staffing levels as well as additional information about regulator coverage, who sets policies and how many premises-based visits regulators make. This is at http://discuss.bis.gov.uk/focusonenforcement/list-of-regulators-and-their-remit/

Notes to Editors

1.Focus on Enforcement reviews examine how regulation is delivered – whether through inspections, advice, and enforcement – not the regulations themselves. The programme’s website also gives individuals and businesses the opportunity to provide evidence on areas ‘in focus’ such as, currently, reviews of childcare and care homes. Businesses can also contribute to a wider review of appeals mechanisms operated by national and local regulators. Visit http://discuss.bis.gov.uk/focusonenforcement/

2.Enforcement of statutory requirements relating to volunteer events covers: food safety; issuing of permits and licences; health and safety; trading standards; and public order and nuisance. However, there is a range of requirements imposed on those organising volunteer events by third parties. These include, for example, the need for certain types of insurance; various forms or information obligations imposed by parties other than statutory authorities such a venue owners; and a general civil law duty of care to others.

3.A lack of clear advice to volunteer organisers can result in unhelpful inconsistency across the country in areas including charging regimes and requirements for pre-publicity. For example, some local authorities charge for road closures, while others do not; the guidance will make clear that volunteers can ask for justification of charging regimes.

4.The Review looked at compliance barriers encountered by civil society organisations and individuals, rather than by businesses. The review examined regulatory activity by national regulators and / or local authorities that affects the arranging and running of events by volunteer-based organisations, including:

  • preparation and sale of cooked foods (e.g. cake-bakes to raise funds for school PTA);
  • sale of second-hand goods (e.g. jumble-sales, bring-and-buy sales);
  • raffles;
  • sponsored events (e.g. fun-runs, three-peaks challenge);
  • staging of performances involving sale of tickets to raise money, such as choral events, plays, poetry-readings (but not including copyright issues); and
  • street parties.

5.At Budget 2012, the government for the first time published data on the national regulators, transparently setting out their remits, regulatory budgets and staff resource so that everyone can better understand who they are and what they do.

This year updated and expanded data also sets out information on:

  • the approximate number of entities regulated by each regulator - so everyone has an idea of the scale of the regulator’s responsibilities;
  • each regulator’s UK geographical coverage - so people know whether and how each regulator operates across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland;
  • which government department, where relevant, is responsible for each regulator’s policy and for setting its budget; and
  • the number of premises based visits carried out annually by each regulator or its agents and (where data are available) how many of those visits were repeat visits.

6.The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set four ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’ (PDF 1.7MB), published at Budget 2011:

  • to create the most competitive tax system in the G20
  • to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
  • to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
  • to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe.

Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.

Published 25 March 2013