The Treasury has given the Charity Commission the green light to open a consultation on charging charities to fund the regulator.
In a joint letter to the House of Lords Select Committee on Charities, William Shawcross and Paula Sussex, chair and chief executive of the commission respectively, said David Gauke, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, had given the regulator his approval for it to consult.
The letter did not say when the consultation would start, only that the commission expected to launch it "shortly".
A spokeswoman for the commission was unable to give a more precise timeframe for when the consultation might take place.
The letter did reveal the Treasury had clarified that any funding from charities would be in addition to the existing grant-in-aid funding the commission receives rather than a replacement for it.
Cuts to the commission’s Treasury funding mean its budget has fallen by £8m since 2010 and will be frozen at £20.3m a year until 2020.
Shawcross previously said he hoped to raise £5m from charities in the next two years and the commission was considering asking the largest charities to pay a levy of between £60 and £3,000, depending on the charity’s size, although charities with annual incomes of less than £20,000 would be exempt from the charge
The letter said: "Evidence submitted to the committee has reinforced the real need for institutional support in governance, as well as the vital role the commission has to play in ensuring trustees meet the high standards that the public expect.
"A properly funded regulator is therefore vital. We believe that it would be irresponsible not to hold this discussion now, rather than wait until it is too late."
The letter reaffirmed the commission’s commitment to consulting "openly and widely".
Earlier this month Third Sector ran a poll asking readers whether they believed charities should contribute to the commission’s funding.
Only 22 per cent of 225 respondents were in favour of the charge, and 78 per cent said they did not believe charities should fund the regulator.