STRATEGY UNIT REPORT: Commission to get more focused role as sector regulator

The report reinforces the Charity Commission's role as the regulator for charities in England and Wales. But it also recommends some big changes, mainly to improve accountability and openness.

Its name would be changed to the Charity Regulatory Authority to place an explicit emphasis on this aspect of its current dual role of regulator and adviser to charities. Its advisory role would be limited to issues over which it has regulatory responsibility.

The number of commissioners would be increased from five to nine to reflect a wider range of stakeholders. It would have more explicit objectives and a clearer framework for accountability.

One suggestion likely to be widely welcomed, especially among smaller charities, is for an independent tribunal for charities and trustees to appeal decisions by the regulator at a much lower cost than resorting to the courts. The commission itself has in the past opposed the idea of an independent tribunal.

As part of its role, the Government also wants the regulator to take a much higher public profile, and to be more open in the way it works and reaches decisions. Its annual general meeting and board meetings should be open to the public, the report says.

The commission would also need to address the interests of donors, volunteers, beneficiaries and consumers in its publications and its web site information.

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