Press release

Regulator says Charities Bill is vital

Commission welcomes Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill.

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The Charity Commission, the independent regulator of charities, welcomes the inclusion of the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill in the Queen’s Speech, adding that the proposed new powers will enable the commission to protect charities from abuse and will empower charities to make social investments.

The commission, the independent regulator of 164,000 registered charities in England and Wales, has said before that it needs stronger legal powers to stop abuse. Many of the proposed new powers in the Bill will assist in closing gaps in existing legislation.

William Shawcross, Chairman of the Charity Commission said:

I am very pleased that the Charities Bill has been included in the Queen’s Speech. This is a vital piece of legislation if we are to have the powers that we need to stop individuals abusing charities. We must be able to take action where abuse occurs. The public, who give so generously of their time and money, would expect nothing less. This Bill is also good news for charities wanting to make social investments. I recommend this Bill to parliamentarians.

One of the shortcomings in current charity law means that a charity trustee can resign and become a trustee or a senior member of staff in another charity without the commission having the power to stop him or her from doing so. Giving the commission additional powers to prevent this happening will help reduce abuse in the charity sector.

The Bill will also give the commission the power to issue formal warnings to charities which breach charity law to ensure they take corrective action. It also includes a power to enable the commission to direct a charity to be wound-up following an investigation, where to do so would be more appropriate than attempting to restore that charity to health. The Bill also includes a pre-emptive power to stop a charity breaching the law, for example such as intending to disclose personal data about its beneficiaries.

The Bill has already been through consultation and scrutiny by a joint Parliamentary committee and will be published in full upon the Bill’s first reading. The Bill in addition will empower charities to make social investments.

Ends

PR 33/15


Notes to editors

  1. The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales.
  2. Our mission is to be the independent registrar and regulator of charities in England and Wales, acting in the public’s interest, to ensure that: * charities know what they have to do * the public know what charities do * charities are held to account

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Published 27 May 2015