Lord Hodgson suggests variation on charity register for small charities

The peer, who reviewed the Charities Act 2006, says the public should be reminded that larger organisations are subject to greater regulation

Lord Hodgson
Lord Hodgson

The Charity Commission should add an identifier next to the name of small charities on its online register to remind the public that they are subject to less regulation than larger organisations, according to the Conservative peer Lord Hodgson.

Hodgson, who produced the review of the Charities Act 2006, was speaking at the interim management provider Russam GMS's annual reception in London this week.

He said that the commission should be more open about the fact that it does not regulate each and every single registered charity to the same degree, and that the small charity label would "not be a value judgment, but a statement of fact – the public should be notified that this is subject to lighter-touch regulation".

The register already includes a red border around the names of charities that have overdue annual accounts, and is due to include details of whether or not a charity is a member of the Fundraising Standards Board, among other details in an update to the register.

Hodgson also told the reception he was worried that the existing "alphabet soup" of fundraising self-regulation by the FRSB, the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association and the Institute of Fundraising would eventually give way to statutory regulation, which he said would be a negative move.

"The problem has been that although self-regulation is undoubtedly the right way forward, the self-regulators can't agree between them," he said. "My fear is that, if the situation persists, there will be public pressure for statutory regulation, which would be wrong and expensive and would leave the sector with a very cumbersome structure."

The peer said he was continuing to pursue one of the rejected recommendations from his review. He said he was due to meet ministers to discuss the idea of charging some richer charities for registering with the commission.

Ben Harrison, policy manager at the Office for Civil Society, said at a separate event earlier this week that the idea had been ruled out in the short term, but might be taken up in the longer term.

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