The proportion of people who think that charities are regulated effectively has fallen over the past two years, research published by the Charity Commission has found.
Research carried out for the regulator by the polling company Populus discovered that the proportion of people who thought charities in England and Wales are regulated very effectively or fairly effectively was down from 64 per cent in 2015 to 58 per cent this year.
Although the proportion of people who felt charities were regulated fairly increased, in effect, from 44 per cent in 2015 to 51 per cent this year, the proportion who felt the sector was regulated very effectively dropped sharply from 20 per cent in 2015 to only 7 per cent this year.
The research, published by the commission today, found that the proportion of people who said charities were not regulated very effectively increased from 8 per cent in 2015 to 16 per cent this year.
The proportion who said they felt charities were regulated "not at all effectively" rose by one percentage point on 2015 to 5 per cent this year. The remainder said they did not know.
The findings are based on 1,002 telephone interviews with a representative sample of members of the public, a further 1,015 online interviews with senior staff or trustees from charities in England and Wales, plus 26 in-depth telephone interviews with charities, government officials, umbrella bodies and professional advisers. All the research was carried out between February and April.
Despite a fall in public confidence in charity regulation, stakeholders interviewed for the study said that charities in England and Wales were regulated effectively overall.
"They think it compares favourably on an international scale, arguing that the England and Wales system is an example for other countries to follow," the report on the findings says. "They have an awareness of and sympathy for the environment that the Charity Commission operates within, referring to a lack of resources and the large number of charities under its remit."
The survey found that awareness of the Charity Commission had risen: 61 per cent of respondents this year said they had heard of the regulator, compared with 47 per cent in 2015.
Researchers found what they called a "significant increase" in the proportion of people who said they or their close family or friends had benefited or used the services of a charity, or received support from one.
The proportion of people who said they or their close family or friends had used a charity’s services went up from 19 per cent in 2015 to 31 per cent this year, and the percentage who said they or their close family or friends had received money, support or help from a charity was up by six percentage points to 16 per cent over the course of two years.
The report says that 17 per cent of the public had a concern about a charity in the past year, but more than half – 58 per cent – did not take any action.