Institute of Fundraising criticises 'restrictive' doorstep collection policies of councils

Local authorities should work with charities and the IoF to find better solutions, says Ed Wyatt, its policy officer

Ed Wyatt
Ed Wyatt

Local authorities are introducing increasingly restrictive policies on charity doorstep collections, according to the Institute of Fundraising.

The institute made the comments after Arun District Council approved a new set of rules, based on its interpretation of the licensing laws, that mean it will look at how much commission a fundraising organisation charges and how many fundraisers would be working in each area before it grants a door-to-door licence.

Ed Wyatt, policy officer at the institute, said: "It seems to be a bit of a trend. More and more councils are looking at putting these restrictive policies in place."

Wyatt said the institute had been recently approached by four local authorities that wanted to bring in policies that would  control doorstep fundraising more tightly. 

"Those are just the ones that looked to interact with us; others might have gone under the radar," said Wyatt.

The West Sussex authority said it wanted to ensure that every doorstep fundraiser was properly vetted and planned to look at how they were recruited and their employment backgrounds.

Wyatt said the approach would restrict charity collections. "One of our major issues is that Arun is proposing to vet charities on the basis of their cause areas," he said. "I cannot find any fundraising rules that allow them to do that."

Ian MacQuillin, head of communications at the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association, said he was concerned that counci's new rules included voluntary requirements in relation to licensing decisions.

"The council cannot refuse a licence on these grounds but implies that it could take them into account, which would be acting beyond its authority," he said.

"We, and charities that rely on doorstep fundraising, would be rightly dismayed if council officers used this policy to refuse collection licences for doorstep fundraising simply because they didn’t like this form of fundraising, particularly as the council has not received any complaints from residents about it."

A spokeswoman for Arun District Council said the policy was not based on complaints from residents.

"The policy was created because we found a large number of discrepancies in applications to us from charities that wanted licences," she said. "We felt that one policy of set criteria was needed.

"Anyone making an application to us will not find that this policy is intended to stop them. It simply gives them guidance about what we expect from them. It's there to protect our residents and our charities as well."

She said there would be no charge for licences when they were granted.

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