Charities might still have to pay to support regulator, says Baroness Stowell

The chair of the Charity Commission tells MPs that sector charging remains 'very much on the table'

Baroness Stowell was appearing before the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Charities and Volunteering
Baroness Stowell was appearing before the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Charities and Volunteering

The idea of a charge on charities to support the work of the Charity Commission is still "on the table", Baroness Stowell, chair of the regulator, has told MPs.

Appearing at the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Charities and Volunteering yesterday, Stowell said that although "sector charging is something that does remain very much on the table", the regulator was still not yet ready to open a consultation on the issue.

The notion of a levy on larger charities to increase funding for the commission was repeatedly raised over the years by the commission under the chairship of Stowell’s predecessor, William Shawcross.

Shawcross said in November 2016 that he hoped a formal consultation on charging charities would be launched "in the near future".

The commission said in March 2017 it had been given the go-ahead by the Treasury to run the consultation, only for the plans to be put on ice when a snap general election was called. The regulator has still not run a consultation on the matter.

Stowell, who was appointed earlier this year, had previously said that ways of raising funding for the commission would be considered only once it had set out its strategic direction.

The strategy was published earlier this year and warned taht the commission did not "have all the resources necessary" to fulfil its ambitions, which include better use of technology and sharing of good practice across the charity sector.

But a number of charity sector representatives have called for any increase in funding for the regulator to be paid for by the Treasury out of general taxation, rather than a levy on charities.

The commission received an extra £5m in funding from the Treasury earlier this year on a temporary basis to meet increased demand on the regulator’s workload.

Also speaking at the APPG meeting, Helen Stephenson, chief executive of the Charity Commission, said the commission was very pleased with the additional funding from the Treasury and the regulator would "digitise and prioritise" to ensure it could work effectively within its existing budget.

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