Fewer charities are contacting us now, says Charity Commission chief Sam Younger

He tells a public meeting that this is welcome news and allows the regulator to operate within its existing resources

Sam Younger
Sam Younger

The Charity Commission has experienced a "welcome and necessary reduction" in the amount of contact it has with charities, according to Sam Younger, its chief executive.

Speaking at the commission’s public meeting in Newcastle yesterday, Younger said the regulator wanted to encourage more self-reliance among charities and reduce the level of direct contact they have with the commission.

In order to reduce the amount of time the commission spent dealing with charities, he said, it was working to improve its guidance and its website. The improvements had already helped to cut the number of charities contacting the commission unnecessarily, he said.

"We are beginning to see a welcome and necessary reduction in the level of contact," Younger said. "At the moment, this is allowing us to operate within our existing resources without building up a huge backlog of work.

"But it’s something we need to keep on at – to eliminate as much of the unnecessary contact as we possibly can."

Younger said the commission needed charities to become more self-reliant because cuts to the regulator’s budget meant it could offer less and less support. Its budget is falling from £29.3m in 2010/11 to £21.3m in 2014/15.

But he said there were other reasons to encourage self-reliance. "At a deeper level, I think it very important that we encourage self-reliance," he said. "After all, it’s not up to the Charity Commission to run charities – it’s up to the trustees."

Younger said that partnerships between the commission and other umbrella bodies would help charities to become less reliant on the commission.

Speaking later at the same event, Neville Brownlee, head of first contact at the commission, said the regulator was already working with a number of umbrella organisations to help improve the services they could offer to their members.

He said the commission was trying to put a framework around the work it did with umbrella bodies and professional bodies so that more contacts could go through those bodies rather than the commission.

"What we’re trying to do is ensure that the commission does what it needs to do and doesn’t go beyond that," said Brownlee. "We want to equip other bodies that are often more knowledgeable about particular issues and help them to help their members."

He said the commission was also supporting umbrella bodies to improve telephone helplines for their members and create trustee handbooks that were more relevant to their members than the more general commission handbook.

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