Editorial: Commission calls time on the cuddly stuff

Stephen Cook, editor

Just over a year ago, the Charity Commission published a new three-year strategy, declaring that one of the four strands of its mission was "ensuring compliance with legal obligations", while another was "championing the work of the sector".

This inevitably led to some speculation about the extent to which these two aims were really compatible, some of which was from organisations that felt they were already acting as effective champions and didn't really need any help, thank you very much.

At the start of this year, a revised version of the strategy changed the second of the above objectives to read "championing the public interest in charity".

The implication of this was that the traditional champions would be left to continue unaided with their role of championing the work of the sector in a general sense, while the commission would champion only the public interest. This is clearly much closer to one of its core purposes - namely, the protection of the public from rogue operators and the enforcement of charity law.

All this might seem a little theological, but there are yet more signs emerging that the commission is, in practice, continuing to put less emphasis on what might be called the more cuddly stuff - the championing and the encouraging - and more on the practical business of being an efficient regulator.

First, there was the launch yesterday of Charity Commission Direct, a determined attempt to centralise and improve the commission's response to inquiries. This coincided with the publication of a model constitution for independent churches, designed to tackle the pay-and-perks scandals unearthed in some evangelical churches by commission inquiries last year.

And now we have the publication by the commission of the names of the 11 of the top 100 charities that failed to get their accounts in on time, coupled with a stern reminder that the backsliders must get their act together.

In the past, the commission has occasionally seemed rather remote and unresponsive to the concerns of its stakeholders and the public. Initiatives of the kind we've seen this week are excellent ways of changing that perception and making it clear that the commission means business in what must be its two main purposes - giving charities all the information and advice they need about regulation and best practice, and making sure they comply with the law and other obligations. Anything else is icing on the cake.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +

Latest Jobs

RSS Feed

Third Sector Insight

Sponsored webcasts, surveys and expert reports from Third Sector partners

Markel

Expert Hub

Insurance advice from Markel

Cyber and data security - how prepared is your charity?

With a 35 per cent rise in instances of data breaches in Q2 and Q3 last year, charities must take cyber security seriously

Third Sector Logo

Get our bulletins. Read more articles. Join a growing community of Third Sector professionals

Register now