Charity Commission to issue guidance on Equality Act

Regulator responds to fears that the act might make restrictions on beneficiary classes unlawful

The Charity Commission has agreed in principle to issue supplementary guidance for the voluntary sector on how to comply with new equality legislation.

Helen Carr, head of policy development and review at the commission, told commission trustees at the regulator's open board meeting in London yesterday that charities working with specific groups of beneficiaries might find it difficult to demonstrate their entitlement to be exempt from anti-discrimination laws introduced in the Equality Act.

The act, which passed through parliament in April, says a charity can restrict the type of beneficiaries it works with only if its governing document permits benefits only to people who share a "protected characteristic", such as ethnicity.

Carr said charities that provided access to sport for particular nationalities or worked with specific age groups, such as older people, could find meeting the requirements in the act challenging.

She said the commission would publish additional guidance for charities after the publication of the Equality and Human Rights Commission's own guidance on compliance with the act, which is expected in June.

Lawyers have called for additional guidance amid fears that restrictions on beneficiary classes might become unlawful.



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