Charity Commission struggles to register mosques

Faith and Social Cohesion Unit faces lack of awareness among Muslim community

The Charity Commission's Faith and Social Cohesion Unit is struggling to make progress in registering mosques as charities, according to the head of the unit.

Ghulam Rasool told the commission's open board meeting in London last week that the unit had contacted more than 1,700 mosques and visited 230, but had registered only 96 so far in 2008, compared with 99 last year. On average, it registered 73 a year between 2001 and 2006.

There was a lack of awareness of the commission in the Muslim community, said Rasool, and many mosques were not ready for registration because they lacked the necessary governance structures, such as formal constitutions.

He said their trustees had trouble filling in registration forms, and the unit had struggled to translate some technical terms into their languages.

Andrew Purkis, a commission board member, said he was worried the regulator might have little to say when it was asked what the FSCU had achieved.

Rosie Chapman, executive director of policy and effectiveness at the commission, said the way the unit was funded conflicted with its aim of promoting inter-faith relations. The unit is largely paid for by a two-year grant of £1.2m from the Communities and Local Government department, specifically to promote good governance at Muslim charities.

But the commission and its advisory group of representatives of different faiths (Third Sector Online, 23 May) are keen to work with other faith groups as well. Dame Suzi Leather, chair of the commission, said: "We need stronger inter-faith relationships. I can't believe CLG wouldn't share some of that thinking."

OTHER MEASURES

The board decided to ...

  • Repeat a survey of the effects of the recession on charities next month.
  • Consider drawing up a version of Hallmarks of an Effective Charity for charities with incomes of less than £250,000.
  • Use a £500,000 underspend to free itself from the lease of one floor of its Taunton office.
  • Consult on a new "risk and proportionality" framework for its charity services division next year.

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