Regulator examines grant aid to Cage | Pickles criticises 'sock-puppet' charities | Osborne urged to ease tax regime

Plus: Age UK uses cameras to discourage charity shop staff from stealing | Lynda Thomas is new Macmillan chief executive | Legacy income up 10 per cent

The Charity Commission is examining grants made by two foundations to the Islamic-focused human rights group Cage, which has blamed UK security services for radicalising the terrorist Mohammed Emwazi, known as "Jihadi John". Cage has previously received funding from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Roddick Foundation.

Charities have expressed concern after Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, urged all government departments to adopt a new "anti-lobbying" clause when giving money to charities or other groups. In a written statement to parliament, Pickles cited research by the free-market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs suggesting that some charities were state-funded "sock-puppet" organisations that used government funds to lobby government itself.

The leaders of six charity umbrella bodies have called on the Chancellor George Osborne to make changes to the tax system that could save the voluntary sector hundreds of millions of pounds, ahead of his budget speech on 18 March. In a joint letter, the heads of organizations including the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, the Institute of Fundraising and the Charity Finance Group suggested investing in a campaign to improve public understanding of Gift Aid and conducting an early review of the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme, which they say is too complicated for some small charities.

Age UK has begun using covert cameras in some of its charity shops to catch volunteers suspected of stealing money or goods. The cameras were installed in 13 of its 430-plus stores as part of a targeted investigation after what the charity said was a "small number" of incidents in its shops.

Lynda Thomas has been appointed as the new chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support. Thomas, who joined the charity as head of media in 2001, has been interim chief executive since November, when Ciarán Devane left to take up the top job at the British Council.

Charity legacy income rose by almost 10 per cent last year, according to new figures from analysts Legacy Foresight. The data, which is gathered from 76 charities that are members of the Legacy Monitor Consortium, shows that members reported combined legacy income of £1.25bn in 2014.

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