Directory of Social Change "concerned" over question on campaign costs, says policy officer Jude Doherty

The charity responds to the Charity Commission's consultation on proposed changes to the annual return in 2015

Jude Doherty
Jude Doherty

The Directory of Social Change has expressed concern about making charities declare their spending on campaigning activities in their annual returns to the Charity Commission.

The publishing and training charity, speaks out for smaller charities, has voiced its reservations in its response to the commission’s consultation to the annual return 2015, due to close on 12 August.

The commission proposes in the consultation document that charities with an income of more than £10,000 a year should declare how much of their total expenditure was spent on campaigning activities, and how much of their income was received from public service delivery and private donations.

The regulator believes that this information will help "improve the accountability and transparency of charities and respond to increased public appetite for information, enabling donors to access detailed information on where charity’s funds are received from, and spent".

But Jude Doherty, policy coordinator at the DSC, said in a statement in response to the consultation: "We are concerned by the question on campaign costs. This came from the Public Administration Select Committee, but we don’t think they made the case well enough. We’re disappointed the suggestion has made it this far when really the commission ought to be robustly defending campaigning as a legitimate charitable activity."

The commission’s consultation also proposes asking charities to say in their annual returns whether or not they have a remuneration policy for paying their executive staff. Doherty said that the DSC was also opposed to that proposal: "The annual return is a useful tool for compiling data on the sector and monitoring compliance, which we obviously favour. However, it is also a regulatory tool and we don’t agree that the regulatory case exists for the inclusion of some of the new questions. Why ask solely about chief executive pay policies when this will not even be an issue for most of the sector?"

He added that the question was particularly irrelevant for charities with incomes of between £10,000 and £500,000 a year that don’t have a paid chief executive or equivalent.

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