Lord Hodgson’s review of the Charities Act did not address the right issues and made several poor suggestions, according to Debra Allcock Tyler, chief executive of the publishing and training organisation the Directory of Social Change.
Speaking at the Westminster Social Policy Forum in London yesterday, Allcock Tyler said she had been very pleased by the idea of the review when Lord Phillips had secured its inclusion in the 2006 act, but she did not feel Hodgson’s proposals, which were published in July, had achieved what was intended.
"I can’t tell you how overwhelmingly underwhelmed I was by the review we got," she said.
She said that she had hoped for a "clause by clause" review of what had and had not worked, but that the review did not properly reflect the act."There is a lot in the review that’s nothing to do with the Charities Act," she said. "It didn’t cover public benefit, for example.
"But about 10 per cent is dedicated to social investment and social enterprise, which weren’t covered in the act."
She said that, despite a lengthy consultation, much of the input from her own organisation and the Small Charities Coalition was ignored.
And among the specific proposals that she singled out for criticism was the idea that charities should be allowed to pay trustees without the permission of the Charity Commission.
She said arguments that this would give charities greater freedom to recruit younger and less wealthy staff were "utter tosh" and there was "no evidence" to support it.
She also said that proposals to raise the income registration threshold for charities would harm small charities that relied on having a charity number to fundraise.
Also speaking at the conference, Dharmendra Kanani, England director at the Big Lottery Fund, said the BLF will not wait for the government to repay money that it diverted to the Olympics before promising that cash to good causes.
Responding to a question from Allcock Tyler, Kanani said that because the BLF had an idea of when money would be repaid, it could commit that money in advance of actually receiving it.
The government has promised to repay £675m of National Lottery funding over 25 years. It has committed to repay £80m from the sale of the Olympic village by 2014, of which 40 per cent will go to the Big Lottery Fund.
A DSC campaign is calling for £425m – the amount of funding that would have gone to the Lottery in 2007 – to be repaid. It says this money is largely available now because the underspend on the Olympics is forecast to be £377m.