Commission change of heart on public services

Registered charities will be allowed to substitute for public services that public authorities have a statutory duty to provide, following a Charity Commission rethink.

The commission has ditched a long-standing policy which dictated that charities could only supplement public services, and not replace services that statutory bodies were legally bound to deliver.

The decision means that two charities that provide leisure services on behalf of local authorities - the Trafford Community Leisure Trust and the Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust - have now been granted charit-able status.

When the two organisations initially applied to become charities in July 2003, their application was denied because the commission was not satisfied that they had been established for exclusively charitable purposes.

Kenneth Dibble, the commission's director of legal services, said: "Interpreting charity law is an ongoing process. This decision represents real progress at a time when charities are being encouraged to develop the capacity and ability to deliver better public services alongside public authorities."

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