The Charity Commission has lessons to learn from the Cup Trust tax-avoidance affair, according to Sam Younger, its chief executive.
Younger was speaking in a wide-ranging panel discussion chaired by the broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby at the Charity Finance Group’s annual conference in London yesterday.
Dimbleby asked Younger about the Cup Trust, which had an income of more than £176m but charitable spending of only £55,000 over two years, and whether the commission should be given "more teeth" to give the public confidence that money invested in charities is used for charitable purposes.
Younger said he could not talk about the Cup Trust specifically because it was subject to an inquiry and an appeal. But he said: "I don’t think one should read out of a single case what should happen more widely. We know we made some mistakes and there are lessons we can learn."
Younger said that the commission was generally more in favour of self-reliance than of "suffocating regulation".
"There maybe a question of some areas where more powers might be relevant, but we’re wary of that at the Charity Commission," he said. "We want to encourage people to get on with things themselves. That’s why one of our strategic aims is self-reliance, not suffocating regulation."
Dimbleby asked Younger if in cases such as the RSPCA's use of prosecutions, which brought accusations by the hunting lobby that it is politically motivated, the commission wanted charities to "push against the barrier" in their activities.
"I think organisations should be looking at their missions and doing whatever is within the rules to promote their missions," said Younger. "I don’t think it would be for us to say ‘you must stay a million miles from the boundary to keep yourself safe’."