Charities are unlikely to be charged fees for regulation, Charity Commission says

Sam Younger, chief executive of the regulator, says such a mechanism could cost more than its income and slant its activities towards larger charities

Charity Commission
Charity Commission

Charities are unlikely to be charged fees for regulation, according to Sam Younger, chief executive of the Charity Commission.

The review of the Charities Act 2006, completed last year by the Conservative peer Lord Hodgson, suggested that the commission should charge for filing of accounts and consider introducing sanctions such as the withdrawal of Gift Aid for those that fail to file their accounts on time.

But speaking at a public meeting of the commission in Nottingham yesterday, Sam Younger, the regulator’s chief executive, said he thought it was unlikely that the government would support the legislation the commission would need in order to charge charities regulatory fees.

He said that there would be more clarity on the issue once the government had published its final response to Lord Hodgson's review and its response to the recent report on charity regulation from the Public Administration Select Committee.

"My feeling is that there is not much of an appetite – in the context of the current economic difficulties and wanting to encourage voluntary activity – for going down the road of asking charities to pay for regulation," he said.

Younger said he was concerned that a mechanism for charging fees could end up costing the commission more than its income or slanting the commission's activities towards the needs of bigger charities, which would inevitably pay more. 

"I think one of my concerns regarding the suggestion of fees is that, given the nature and spread of the charity sector, we would have to be very careful that we didn't end up with a system whose administration costs were greater than the income it brought in," he said.

"It would also drive us to the possibility of differential fees. Furthermore, there is the danger that our activities as a regulator will be geared to the needs of the largest charities."

Neville Brownlee, head of first contact at the commission, said that joint filing with Companies House for incorporated charities was more likely to happen in the future than a fee for late filers. 

"I feel that some kind of joint portal is a more likely outcome in the next evolution of filing, rather than a charging regime," he said.

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