The chair of the working group that will decide on a new system of fundraising regulation for Scotland has accused Stephen Dunmore, interim chief executive of the London-based Fundraising Regulator, of not understanding the meaning of Scottish devolution.
In a letter to Dunmore, dated 20 April, Theresa Shearer, chair of the fundraising working group in Scotland and chief executive of Enable Scotland, said she was "shocked and bemused" at comments Dunmore had made at Third Sector’s Fundraising Week conference on Wednesday.
Dunmore, who delivered the keynote address at the event that day, said in response to a question from a delegate that he believed the regulator he managed should have the remit to regulate in Scotland as well as in England and Wales.
"The tone of the discussion reported in the article suggests both a lack of understanding of the true meaning of political devolution to Scotland and a lack of interest in seeing genuine consultation deliver solutions," the letter reads.
It criticises Dunmore for saying at the event that "a lot of politics" was involved in the decision being taken over how best to regulate fundraising north of the border. It says that Dunmore himself had commented at a recent Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations event in Glasgow that the work being done on regulation lacked political guidance.
The letter also takes issue with Dunmore’s view that a consultation paper published by the SCVO in February – recommending that responsibility for fundraising should sit with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator and charities themselves – was "slanted in one direction".
The letter says: "The extensive consultation on regulatory options under way in Scotland, with both the sector and public, only serves to highlight the lack of consultation with the sector, and particularly the public, in England and Wales subsequent to the Etherington review."
Shearer, who it was announced in February would attend the Fundraising Regulator’s board meetings until it was decided how best to regulate Scottish fundraising, concludes the letter by saying that "neither politics, nor personal or political agendas" would be allowed to influence Scotland’s decision-making.
She says she looks forward to a robust discussion at the regulator’s next board meeting about its view of its regulatory remit over the devolved nations.
Asked to comment on the letter, Dunmore reiterated his view, shared during Fundraising Week, that he fully recognised that decisions about fundraising regulation in Scotland were a matter for Scotland to determine.
Respondents to the SCVO’s consultation had until last month to submit written responses. In the coming weeks, numerous focus groups will be held to discuss the feedback. The revised recommendations will then be approved by the SCVO’s trustees before being put forward to key stakeholders.
A spokeswoman told Third Sector these would include the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator, the Scottish government and officials, but not the London-based regulator or Rob Wilson, the Minister for Civil Society. "This is an issue that's fully devolved to Scotland," she said.