Commission strategy paper provokes revolt

The Charity Commission is facing a backlash over its proposal to take on a broader role as a promoter and champion of the voluntary sector.

The revolt comes in reactions from umbrella bodies to the commission's policy document, Charity Working at the Heart of Society, which sets out its plans for the next three years.

The document says the roles of the regulator should also include enabling charities to maximise their impact and encouraging innovation and effectiveness.

But the National Council of Voluntary Organisations has warned the regulator's "integrity and impartiality could be undermined" if it presses ahead. The NCVO also says confidence in the sector could be damaged.

"The principal role of the Charity Commission should be to regulate the charity sector," said the NCVO in a document on its website. "It is not its role to promote the sector or protect charity integrity."

Acevo is also concerned about the commission's plans. "If its work encroaches on the work we or NCVO are doing, it's not going to be productive," said policy and development officer David Hunter.

He said the commission should concentrate on being a better regulator. "Some people have expressed concerns that it is a little heavy handed," he added.

The commission's new strategy is part of the overhaul by chairman Geraldine Peacock and chief executive Andrew Hind. It relies partly on a survey of commission stakeholders.

Hind said championing the work of the sector was fourth out of four proposed aspects of the commission's work and would take "a tiny fragment of time and resources".

- See News, page 5 and News in focus, page 20.

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