Debate: are licensing procedures for fundraising events too complex and off-putting?

Some community fundraisers feel charities are missing out on opportunities. Three experts give their views

Simon O'Leary, head of volunteer fundraising, Cancer Research UK

It is easy to point the finger at local authorities and their licensing regulations, but regulations are necessary to protect both volunteers and the public. With the right planning and communication, they should not stop communities from being able to
carry out effective local fundraising.

All fundraising events must be safe, cost-effective and legal. Supporters need to be confident that the people they are giving their money to are operating in a legitimate way.
It is vital that the general public trust local volunteer fundraisers.

We have a responsibility to ensure that the passion, energy and goodwill that all charities rely on are not compromised by the few who are not carrying out genuine activities.

Volunteers should have the right support, information and resources to plan and carry out their fundraising activities with confidence. This is why Cancer Research UK has recently restructured its own volunteer fundraising teams to ensure that the support we give them is better than ever.

Sue Towler, executive officer, The Institute of Licensing

Although the rules might look daunting to event organisers, the process for smaller events will often be quite simple. Help should be available from local licensing authorities to help event organisers to ensure their events are properly authorised.

Under the Licensing Act 2003, entertainment and alcohol at events need authorisation, which is possible with either a temporary event notice or a premises licence.

For small-scale community events involving less than 499 people, a TEN can normally be used where there is no existing licence. This costs £21, and a notice to the local licensing authority and police must be submitted at least 10 working days before the event. Larger events require a premises licence, which is more complex but is free for village halls and community centres.

It is already possible for local communities to apply to license buildings and public community areas on a permanent basis, and the local licensing authority will be able to advise on this.

Richard Searight is a volunteer fundraiser who is leading a petition for a single catch-all community fundraising event licence

The plethora of licences required to run the simplest community event, combined potentially with punitive sanctions, means thousands of events now simply never happen.
Safety is not the issue. Virtually every community event is vastly safer than the hazards experienced on the road driving to them.

Bureaucracy is not a problem for bureaucrats: they are good at filling in forms and reading small print. But things are different at community level. For instance, only 50 per cent of people on our parochial church council even have email.

In addition, the possibility of £20,000 in fines or six months in prison for failure to comply is often only the last straw.

We have to change the Government's mindset from regulating community events to promoting them. A simple, perpetual, catch-all licence allowing communities to carry on doing what they have always done well is the only help needed.

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