2016 will be a significant year for the Charity Commission. Our work to reform several areas of the commission’s work will come on stream and the public will see a more robust regulator, strengthening trust and confidence in charity.
This new blog will allow the commission to update regularly on our work, address topics of interest and communicate how we are becoming a more effective regulator. Over the coming months, a variety of voices will discuss a range of issues, giving their perspective on the commission’s work.
The commission’s role stretches back centuries and in that time it has acquired a myriad of responsibilities. From registering charities and enforcing charity law, to more recently combating terrorist abuse of charities and protecting vulnerable beneficiaries – there is never a dull day in the commission. It must always be remembered we are 300 people regulating 165,000 charities with one million trustees!
Squaring less money, more work
Our budget has fallen by 50% and we have had to transform the way we work. This has involved asking Parliament to give us more powers, reforming our business model to focus on high-risk cases, and introducing new systems to manage the 20% rise in applications for charitable status.
Charities Protection and Social Investment Bill: new powers
The most conspicuous change so far in 2016 is the passage of the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill. It will give us much needed powers to regulate charities more effectively as well as closing some serious loopholes. Crucially, one power contained in the Bill that we specifically requested is a warning power, this will allow us to react much more effectively, and proportionately, when we have concerns.
Upgrading our systems
The second change people will start to notice, particularly those involved in running charities, is their interaction with the commission. From registration to filing accounts, we are upgrading many of our systems. Not only will the new services be better but the increased efficiency will also allow us to focus more resources on high-risk work, including counter-terrorism.
Focus on serious regulatory concerns
This is the third change, our drive to refocus the work of the commission on serious regulatory concerns. This has been ongoing throughout my chairmanship and the figures demonstrate how far we have come. Last year, we opened over 100 investigations, ten times the number three years ago. We also used our regulatory powers over one thousand times, compared to fewer than 200 in 2010. Although this rate of increase is not sustainable, people will see case reports reflect the new approach of the commission.
We will be communicating how we have changed throughout this year as it is essential to strengthen public trust in charities and ensure donations continue to go to good causes. In the coming months, you will hear more detail from the commission and I encourage you all to engage with us.