The existing system of self-regulation of fundraising is not working because it is not clear enough and has failed to pick up recent malpractice that came to light in the press, according to the Minister for Civil Society, Rob Wilson.
He has previously referred to growing criticism of the self-regulatory set-up, which involves three different bodies, but has now made it clear he does not consider it fit for purpose.
"I think it’s fair to say that the way self-regulation has worked so far has not been successful, which is why we have significant problems," Wilson said in an interview with Third Sector.
"First, I don’t think the public can identify very easily how it goes about making a complaint or getting a problem solved. There are at least three organisations involved in doing different things and I think it’s quite hard for the public to see which one does what and why. So I think there’s a clarity issue that needs to be sorted out.
"It’s also fair to say that before the Olive Cooke case there was no feeling that anything like that was going on in the sector, or certainly the self-regulators weren’t reporting there was any kind of problem.
"That makes me feel there is a detachment between what is going on in the sector and what’s feeding through to the self-regulators, and I think it is a problem if your self-regulators aren’t picking up what’s going on."
Wilson said the Conservative peer Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts pointed out in his 2012 review of the Charities Act 2006 that there were problems with self-regulation that should be sorted out. "I’m not sure much was done until this Olive Cooke case came out of the blue and spurred everyone to think it detail about what needs to be done," Wilson said.
"I’m slightly surprised more wasn’t done in that period. One report by a consultancy in three years is what you might describe as slow progress."
Wilson said he was not ruling anything out, including statutory regulation, but wanted to wait for the review of the self-regulatory system that is being led by Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.
"My preference is to see a self-regulated sector that has the teeth to do the job," said Wilson.
The full interview with Rob Wilson will be published shortly online and in the next print edition of Third Sector.