Commission has received 30 applications for disqualification waivers as rules come into force

The regulator reveals that it has granted eight waivers and refused one, is still considering eleven and has decided that ten are not covered by the new rules

The Charity Commission has received 30 applications from senior managers and trustees for waivers to avoid disqualification from their roles as the new rules come into force, figures obtained by Third Sector show.

The new rules, which disqualify people from being senior managers or trustees of charities if they have committed certain offences, such as those that lead to them being put on the register of sex offenders, or if they have unspent convictions for crimes such as terrorism or money laundering, come into effect today.

A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said today that of the 30 applications for waivers it had received, eight had resulted in waivers being granted and one had been refused.

Eleven applications were still being considered and 10 applications were not applicable because the people applying were not covered by the new rules, the spokeswoman said.

The new rules, which were introduced by the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016, complement existing measures that automatically disqualify trustees for bankruptcy or crimes involving dishonesty or deception.

The commission can grant waivers to people affected by the changes to allow them to continue working for charities. But anyone who has not received a waiver before today will be automatically disqualified, unless they have already submitted an application for a waiver.

The commission spokeswoman said that anyone who was affected by the changes and had submitted an application for a waiver could continue in post until the decision was made, including any decision reviews or appeals.

Figures obtained by Third Sector last month showed that 14 out of 20 applications that had been received by the regulator in early July had not been dealt with at that point.

Any new applications for waivers from people who had now been disqualified should be dealt with within 30 days, the spokeswoman said today.

"The new rules that amend the long-standing automatic disqualification regime are an important step that parliament determined would better protect charities against potential abuse and mismanagement," the spokeswoman said.

"Charities should by now have the appropriate measures in place in regards to their recruitment and retention practices for trustees and those in, or applying for, chief executive or finance director-type roles."

The spokeswoman said the commission had worked hard to make charities and affected people aware of the changes, including through guidance, writing to charities in the commission’s trustee newsletter and on social media.

Christopher Stacey, co-director of the charity Unlock, which supports people with convictions, said it was important to know how many of the granted waivers related to people with criminal records so that it could be determined if the waiver process was working properly.

"We know of some cases in which people have waited months for a decision, and it’s concerning to learn that more than one in three waiver applications are still being considered," Stacey said.

"Given that these decisions might have significant implications for people’s livelihoods, it’s important that the commission is making sure it’s meeting its aim of making decisions within 21 days."

Unlock has also updated its guidance to help charities understand the changes and what steps they should take to maintain and increase the involvement of people with criminal records within the sector.

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