The Draft Charities Bill: The Bill in brief

DEFINITION OF "CHARITY"

- There will be 12 charitable purposes: the prevention or relief or poverty; the advancement of education; the advancement of religion; the advancement of health; the advancement of citizenship or community development; the advancement of arts, heritage or science; the advancement of amateur sport; the advancement of human rights; conflict resolution or reconciliation; the advancement of environmental protection or improvement; the relief of those in need by reason of youth, old age, ill-health, disability, financial hardship or other disadvantage.

- Public benefit will no longer be presumed - all registered charities will have to pass a public benefit test. Compliance will be monitored by the Charity Commission on the basis of existing charity law. There is no statutory definition of public benefit.

THE CHARITY COMMISSION

- The commission is to be given four regulatory objectives: to increase public trust and confidence in charities; to increase compliance by charities with their legal obligations; to encourage charities to maximise their social and economic impact; and to enhance the accountability of charities to donors, beneficiaries and the public.

- An independent Appeals Tribunal is to be established to enable charities to challenge commission decisions.

NEW LEGAL FORM

- The Charitable Incorporated Organisation is to be set up for charities established as limited-liability companies and registered with both Companies House and the Charity Commission. The new form means charity companies will only be registered with the Charity Commission.

TRUSTEES

- Trustees will be able to apply for exemption from personal liability for breach of trust.

- Charities are to be given the right to pay trustees for certain services.

MERGERS

- The Charity Commission is to establish a register of merged charities

FUNDRAISING

- The Home Secretary will gain "reserve powers" to introduce "necessary or desirable" regulation of charity fundraising.

- A local authority licensing scheme is to be set up for public collections, including face-to-face fundraising.

FINANCE

- Scottish and Northern Irish charities are to be given the right to invest in Common Investment Funds.

- Charities with an income of less than £500,000 will no longer be required to have their accounts professionally audited. But independent examination of accounts will be required.

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