Abolition of national exemption orders proposed by Hodgson review

Proposal is criticised by the Institute of Fundraising, which welcomes other recommendations

Charity textile collection
Charity textile collection

National exemption orders, which release large charities that make frequent house-to-house collections from seeking licences repeatedly, should be abolished on grounds of fairness to smaller charities, the Hodgson review says.

It adds that provision must be made for recognised annual ‘flag’ days such as the poppy appeal. But the proposal was criticised by the Institute of Fundraising, which said some charities did thousands of such collections a year and they and local authorities could end up with far more bureaucracy. The institute welcomed other proposals by Hodgson.

The review says the Fundraising Standards Board and sector umbrella bodies, helped by the Cabinet Office and the Charity Commission, should address "the confused self-regulatory landscape" for fundraising and agree proposals within six months for a division of responsibilities that provides clarity and simplicity for the public and removes duplication.

This is a reference to the system where the Institute of Fundraising sets codes of practice that the FRSB uses for its regulatory functions, while the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association also has regulatory functions and a rule book for face-to-face fundraising.

The review says the government, the Charity Commission and sector umbrella bodies should do more to support self-regulation by promoting and publicising the FRSB, and that FRSB members should be required to display the ‘tick’ logo on their communications.

Membership of the FRSB should not be compulsory at this stage, the review says, but there should be an "expectation" that all fundraising charities with an income above £1m should be members. The FRSB should be reviewed in five years, with statutory regulation remaining a serious option if self-regulation stalls.

National guidelines should be drawn up for public charitable collections, the review says, leaving local authorities significant freedom in determining the frequency and extent of different types of collections, but without the power to ban a particular fundraising method that is accepted nationally.

Face-to-face collections – at present outside the control of local authorities if they solicit direct debits rather than cash – should be brought into the licensing regime, but local authorities should be encouraged to rely on self-regulation by the Public Fundraising Regulatory Authority.

The government should also explore the options for licensing all types of house-to-house textile collection, the review says: at present, commercial collectors do not have to apply for a licence.

There should be the right of appeal to the charity tribunal against the refusal of any type of fundraising licence, and in London consideration should be given to transferring licensing from the Metropolitan Police to local authorities.

A standing committee chaired initially by the Cabinet Office should be set up to drive forward these changes and monitor progress, the review says.

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