Charity Commission Update

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The Charity Commission is yet to appoint the replacement of the outgoing Chair, William Shawcross. Whilst the Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport have not confirmed when the announcement of a new Chair is due, the Minister for Civil Society Tracey Crouch MP stated on 8 January in a written answer to Parliament that ‘an announcement is expected in due course’ [1]. She also stated that six people interviewed for the position.

As the pre-appointment hearing for the job was scheduled for late last year, it was initially expected that Mr Shawcross would be standing down at the start of 2018 with his successor publically announced. However, the pre-appointment hearing was cancelled and a new date for the pre-appointment hearing has yet to be set. Until a new Chair is announced, Mr Shawcross remains as the head of the Commission.

The lack of certainty may be a cause of frustration for some charities, who are waiting to hear from the Commission about the potential introduction of a charge on charities – to cover the cost of their regulation.  Introducing a charge has been a long standing ambition for Mr Shawcross [2], who had hoped to bring in, or at least consult on, the charge by the end of his tenure as Chair. The Commission have not yet consulted on the charge, but have stated on multiple occasions that charities can expect to be consulted in the near future [3].

Commission’s Response to Lords Select Committee

In other news, the Charity Commission has published their response [4] to the House of Lords Select Committee on Charities 2017 report ‘Stronger Charities for a stronger society’.

The Commission directly responds to six of the recommendations set out in the Lords report. Of the six recommendations, the Commission accepts three, partially accepts one, rejects one, and finds one to be not applicable. Of particular interest to charities will be the responses given to recommendation six, regarding charity trusteeship, and recommendation forty-one, regarding the prospective regulatory charge.

Recommendation six concerns a proposed time limit for individuals to serve as trustees along with a maximum term of office. The Commission states that whilst it is sympathetic to the recommendation, and endorses the recommended nine year limit on trustee tenure as set out in the Charity Governance Code, it certain charities may not be able to follow this good practice. It believes that a mandatory time limit on trusteeship does not take into account these certain charities, and therefore believes a mandatory time limit would be unworkable.

Recommendation forty-one asks that the Charity Commission ‘makes clear how a charge would benefit charities and strengthen the sector overall.’ The Commission agrees with the recommendation and commits to it. It says ‘the Commission hopes to be able to consult on both the type of enabling services the sector would like to see provided by the Commission, and the method and model for sector contributions shortly… Should we do so, we would want to propose the sort of functions and benefits the sector could receive, and would look to charities to respond and shape this offer.

[1] Tracy Crouch MP, Hansard, 20 December 2017, WA, link

[2] William Shawcross, Third Sector, 10 January 2017, link

[3] Third Sector, 29 November 2017, link

[4] Charity Commission for England and Wales response to “Stronger Charities for a Stronger Society”, report of Session 2016-17 of the House of Lords Select Committee on Charities, January 2018, link



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