Charity Commission makes changes to decision review process

Regulator promises a more flexible approach to how it handles complaints and widens range of decisions that can be subject to review

The Charity Commission
The Charity Commission

The Charity Commission has made changes to the way it handles complaints about its decisions.

Last August, the commission began a consultation on its decision review service, which resulted in five changes. It says the decision process will become much more flexible and the commission will be able to decline to carry out a review in some circumstances.

The second change is that the scope of decisions that are subject to review has been widened, and only some applicants will be able to speak to the reviewer, as opposed to all of them. 

In addition, the reviewer may now have previous involvement in the matter being reviewed. The fifth change is that complaints about Freedom of Information Act and Subject Access requests will be more clearly separated from the decision review service.

Under the changes, the scope of the service has been widened, to include not only decisions listed in schedule 6 of the Charities Act, but also decisions made by the commission about whether to exercise one of its legal powers. A spokeswoman for the commission said this change would be subject to a trial period of six months "after which this change will be reassessed".

Individuals will now only be able to speak to a reviewer directly in certain cases that affect the rights of an individual trustee or charity, and cases where the original decision imposed regulations on the charity. Previously, all applicants had the right to talk to the reviewer.

The new process will also mean that the person reviewing the decision can have prior knowledge of the case, but cannot be the person who made the original decision. The commission spokeswoman said this change was due to the commission’s "limited resources". She said that previously, the person reviewing a decision would have had no prior knowledge of it.

The final change to the process, the commission spokeswoman said, concerns FoI and Subject Access requests: these had always been dealt with separately, but the commission’s website will now make this clearer.

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