Lawyers hit out at Charity Commission budget cuts

Fall in staffing levels will affect regulator's ability to implement Charities Act, experts claim

Cuts in the Charity Commission's budget are undermining the regulator's ability to implement the 2006 Charities Act, according to senior sector lawyers.

Lord Andrew Phillips, the Liberal Democrat peer and founder of solicitors Bates Wells & Braithwaite, told a charity law conference in London last week it was scandalous that the Charity Commission had suffered large cuts in staffing levels - "especially considering the amount of extra work created by the 2006 Charities Act".

The Charity Commission revealed last week it would cut 60 jobs to cope with a £900,000 drop in its budget for 2010/11. The redundancies will mean the regulator will have lost 178 posts in six years, to deal with a £5.5m fall in funding in real terms.

Stephen Lloyd, a senior partner at Bates Wells & Braithwaite, told the conference that budget cuts had already affected the Charity Commission's ability to implement the 2006 Charities Act. He predicted that the charitable incorporated organisation legal form would become a "fossil in the legislation" as the commission would not be able to register tens of thousands of new CIOs.

Debra Allcock Tyler, chief executive of the Directory of Social Change, which co-organised the conference, said commission budget cuts could make it harder to register charities or enable charities to merge. Both were "dire threats to active citizenship and voluntary effort in our country", she told the conference.


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