A new qualifications framework has brought government-funded accountancy training for staff and trustees of small charities a step closer, according to the head of the organisation responsible for accounting qualifications.
Dean Cassar, chief executive of the Financial Services Skills Council, which oversees finance and accountancy training in the UK, told Third Sector that the new framework - known as the National Occupational Standards - would make a basic charity accounting qualification much easier to set up.
"We're going to phase out NVQs and replace them with new modular qualifications that are more flexible," said Cassar. "This should make it easier for an awarding body to produce a qualification in a specialist field such as charity accountancy, if there's a need for it.
"This is the best opportunity there has been for a charity qualification to happen."
Awarding bodies Edexcel and the Association of Accounting Technicians said they had made no decision about whether they would be interested in developing some charity accounting qualifications under the new standards.
Tom Fitch, chief executive of Cash, an organisation that provides accounting support for small charities, said he was hopeful that community accountancy organisations could persuade the awarding bodies to act on the matter.
Cassar said charity staff should be eligible to receive the NOS qualification for free under the Government's Train to Gain scheme, which provides funding for employees who want to take vocational qualifications.
He said he supported a specialist charity qualification, but it would be up to individual awarding bodies to make the final decisions about creating one. "They're demand-led organisations," he said. "So they have to believe that there's a need for this in the charity sector."