What are the main changes? In the recently published draft Charities Bill (England and Wales only, the new Bill for Scotland is till to come), there are a series of recommendations to change the way public collections take place.
These include the extension of the licensing scheme to cover face to face as well as other forms of public collections; the expansion of the definition of a public place to cover areas such as station concourses and supermarket forecourts; the ending of the exemption orders for those organisations that collect across many different local authorities; and a two-stage permit to collect system.
In London, responsibility would pass from the police to individual boroughs.
Local, short-term collections would not fall under the licensing scheme.
Right of appeal would be to a magistrate's court and the collection of goods would fall outside of the scheme.
How might the two-stage permit work? Stage one is proving the organisation is fit to collect. Stage two is determining that there is capacity in the chosen area. For those collections spread across more than one local authority area, a "lead authority" system would come into effect.
The lead authority would be defined according to the charity's head office address. Once granted, then the other local authorities can only decide on the basis of capacity. The 'fit to collect' certificate would be valid for up to five years.
What happens now? We have the opportunity to give feedback on these proposals over the next few weeks. The Institute is already working hard to ensure that fundraising organisations are aware of the main recommendations and that they feed in their views as soon as possible. Any individual or organisation can submit their own written evidence, but need to do so quickly.
Are these proposals workable? In general terms, yes. We are calling for greater clarity on some of the detail, as this is where success or failure can merge. For example, we need to ensure that capacity is clearly defined and that this definition is adhered to by every local authority.
We have concerns over the willingness of some local authorities to be able to cover their newly proposed duties, especially in London or where there are likely to be large concentrations of lead authorities. We are interested in hearing the views of as wide a range of organisations as possible.