Trading Standards will not investigate Fundraising Regulator's letter to charity

Children and the Arts reported the regulator to Tower Hamlets Trading Standards, claiming the letter and invoice implied the fundraising levy was mandatory

Trading Standards will not be investigating a letter and invoice sent by the Fundraising Regulator to a children’s charity requesting payment of the fundraising levy because it does not believe it has the powers to take the case forward.

Children and the Arts reported the regulator to Tower Hamlets Trading Standards earlier this month after it received a letter and an invoice saying the charity was included in the fundraising levy.

The charity said the letter and invoice had clearly implied that the levy was a mandatory charge for services, rather than a donation – a claim that was rejected by the Fundraising Regulator.

But in a statement made today, a spokeswoman for Tower Hamlets Trading Standards said: "Our current understanding is that Tower Hamlets Trading Standards does not have the regulatory or statutory powers to investigate decisions made by the Fundraising Regulator."

The regulator’s letter to the charity said the levy would apply for three years and the invoice, for £150 a year, was in arrears for services delivered since 1 September 2016.

The four-page letter did not say the charity was not obliged to pay the levy, but mentioned that by voluntarily paying the levy charities were "contributing their allotted share to meet regulatory costs".

The invoice itself did not mention anywhere that the payment was voluntary.

Sending unsolicited invoices giving consumers the impression they have ordered a product or service when they have not and omitting key information that consumers need to make an informed decision are both banned under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

In a statement, the Fundraising Regulator said today: "The Fundraising Regulator welcomes all feedback and, where a charity is unhappy with a decision we make, they can inform our chairman in writing.

"For self-regulation to work it is important that charities recognise their responsibilities to donors and the wider public. The most visible way to ensure this is to register with the Fundraising Regulator."

If you’re interested in fundraising, you can’t miss Third Sector’s Annual Fundraising Conference on 23 and 24 May. Click here for more information and to book at the Early Bird rate.

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