Poll finds majority oppose levy to fund the Charity Commission

A Third Sector online poll that attracted 225 respondents finds that 78 per cent think charities should not have to contribute to the regulator's funding

Charity Commission
Charity Commission

More than three-quarters of respondents to a Third Sector poll about whether charities should pay towards the cost of running the Charity Commission were against the idea.

An online poll run last month asked if charities should contribute to the regulator’s funding. Seventy-eight per cent of the 225 respondents said no, with 22 per cent saying yes.

William Shawcross, chair of the commission, said in an interview at the end of last year that the regulator was considering charging charities an annual fee of between £60 and £3,000, depending on their size, to contribute towards its running costs in response to cuts in its funding from central government.

But the idea of charging charities for regulation has been opposed by some sector organisations, including the charity leaders body Acevo, the local infrastructure body Navca and the Charity Finance Group.

Of those who responded to the poll, 81 per cent said they worked for charities, with the remainder saying that they worked in other sectors or were charity trustees.

One respondent to the survey commented that the introduction of a levy would be "an abuse of charitable resources".

Another said: "This is a tax on donors and beneficiaries. The money that government would have to give to fund the Charity Commission properly is tiny in comparison to the amount that charities save the government every year. It is a small price to pay for a robust regulator of the sector that is keeping communities and the entire country afloat in difficult times."

One other respondent asked: "How will the charity explain to their donors that their £1 is actually not going to charitable expenditure but to pay for a government department?"

Some others were more supportive of charging, however.

One respondent said: "Charities should fund their regulator so that it has enough funding to carry out its functions properly and effectively."

Another said: "Being registered as a charity does confer a benefit to a charity, so it seems fair for registered charities to pay an annual fee to the commission in the same way that charitable companies pay an annual fee to Companies House."

Commenting on the results of the survey, Vicky Browning, chief executive of Acevo, said it was clear that most in the sector were "less than convinced" by the idea of charities contributing towards the costs of the regulator.

"Unless there are clear proposals that detail increased support for the sector from the commission, and a commitment to reform commission governance to ensure that it is truly representative of the sector, these are concerns that will remain an intractable obstacle to any levy," she said.

A spokesman for the Charity Commission said: "It is vital that trustees and charities of all shapes and sizes have the opportunity to engage in the debate about the sustainable funding of their regulator.

"These are complicated matters that do not boil down to a simple yes or no. We are committed to consulting widely and openly, and will do as soon as we are able."

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