Commission may charge for permission to collect

The Charity Commission is considering charging charities for certificates permitting them to carry out public collections if the Government does not stump up the money to cover the costs of providing the service.

At the Third Sector Forum in Oxfordshire last week, Zoe Willems, senior policy officer, outlined the commission's draft proposals for the five-year 'passport to fundraise' mooted in the Charities Bill.

Charities that carry out face-to-face or door-to-door collections must currently seek permission from the local authority each time they want to fundraise. Under the Bill, charities would have to get a certificate from the commission before applying to councils.

Willems said that charging was one option being examined, although the commission had not yet worked out how much certificates would cost. But local authority figures in the Regulatory Impact Assessment that was published alongside the Charities Bill put the cost per licence at between £4 and £300.

Short-term local collections will be exempt from the certificate system if the Bill goes through, although a definition will be given in Home Office guidance rather than in the Bill.

The commission intends to publish the draft proposal on its website within a few weeks and consult the sector about it. With development time taken into account, the scheme is unlikely to launch before 2009/10.

Meic Phillips, assistant director of the Epic Trust, said the proposal was "over-regulation".

But Willems said it would be less burdensome on charities that fundraise in more than one area, because at present they have to apply to each local authority every time they want to collect.

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