Charity Commission: 'We don't want greater powers to refuse registration'

Earlier this year, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales recommended that the commission be allowed to refuse a charity registration if a similar organisation already existed

The Charity Commission has indicated that it will not seek stronger powers to refuse the registration of a charity if a similar organisation already exists.

A review of charities’ strategy development, carried out by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and published earlier this year, recommended that the law should be changed to allow the commission to refuse registration in such circumstances.

But a response to the review, published by the Charity Commission today, says: "We have no power to refuse registration to a charity legally established, and we do not know that the public would support a fettering of their freedom to set up charities.

"But, on a more practical note, there is currently no opportunity for legislative change in this area."

It says that the regulator has already amended its guidance relating to registration – CC21 and CC22 – to "help trustees consider carefully the suitability and viability of their plans. But registration is not the conferring of charity status – it is recognition of the fact that the legal conditions for such status already exist."

The ICAEW report, which was based on reports of reviews of 26 charities with incomes of less than £5m a year and was published in May, said that many charity trustee boards lacked financial expertise and a "sound appreciation of their roles and responsibilities".

The commission’s response says that it will promote a discussion between leading bodies in the voluntary sector and experts and practitioners about "whether there is a simple solution for raising awareness of and improving access to information on collaboration and mergers as elements of strategic planning".

It says the regulator will also will use its discussions with bodies that have influence over funders and service commissioners to raise awareness about the need for proportionate risk management.

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