Lord Low to chair Acevo commission on sector regulation

The charity chief executives body set up its review last month but announced it after the NCVO yesterday unveiled its review of Charity Commission governance

Lord Low of Dalston
Lord Low of Dalston

The charity chief executives body Acevo has set up a commission on the sector’s regulation by the Charity Commission and other regulators, provisionally named the Commission on Regulating a 21st Century Social Sector.

The announcement comes the day after the fellow umbrella body the National Council for Voluntary Organisations said it would start a review of the commission’s governance, looking in particular at perceptions of its political neutrality.

On the back of the NCVO’s news, Acevo decided to go public with its commission, which was set up last month.

The commission is chaired by Lord Low of Dalston, former chair of the sight-loss charity the RNIB, who also led an independent review of advice and legal support charities, which published its report in January.

The Acevo review will look at the regulation of the broader social sector and consider whether changes in the law are needed to reduce the burden on organisations, whether and how campaigning should be regulated and how communication between the sector and its various regulators can be enhanced.

Acevo said its review was prompted by the Public Accounts Committee’s critical report on the commission, published in February.

Like the NCVO review, the commission will look at the example of charity regulators in other countries. It will also consider the role of non-charity regulators, although a spokeswoman for Acevo was unable to confirm which ones. Some charities are regulated by other bodies such as the Care Quality Commission, the Homes and Communities Agency and Ofsted, while charities registered at Companies House are subject to its reporting regulations.

The commissioners have not been confirmed, but the board will include 10 to 12 people including charity chief executives, the spokeswoman for Acevo said. One of the confirmed names is Guy Parker, chief executive of the advertising regulator the Advertising Standards Authority.

The spokeswoman said it was hoped the commission would conclude its evidence gathering by the end of the year and produce a report in late January or early February.

Sir Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo, said: "We are delighted that the NCVO’s project will follow on so neatly from our current work. We will work with NCVO in continuing this agenda, including working with them to protect and enhance our essential campaigning role."

Sarah Atkinson, director of policy and communications at the Charity Commission, said: "We’re surprised by these sudden announcements of new reviews, particularly given that we have so recently set out our strategy for proactive, risk-based regulation, and we are currently undergoing the National Audit Office’s follow-up review of the commission – we expect their report and recommendations in January."

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