The Conservative peer Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts has broadly welcomed the government’s response to his review of the Charities Act 2006. But he said he was disappointed it did not accept his recommendation to increase the income threshold for compulsory registration with the Charity Commission.
The government last week published its response to Hodgson’s review of the Charities Act 2006, Trusted and Independent: Giving Charity Back to Charities. In it, the government accepted the majority of the recommendations made by Hodgson in his review.
Speaking at a Westminster Social Policy Forum event on charity law and regulation in London yesterday, Hodgson said he was pleased with the way the government had dealt with his review.
"It would be a very churlish reviewer who would not be happy with the number of recommendations that have been accepted," he said.
But Hodgson said he was disappointed that the government had not accepted his recommendations for the threshold for compulsory registration with the commission to be raised from £5,000 a year to £25,000.
"I simply cannot understand how this has failed to resonate, firstly with the sector and secondly with the Charity Commission," said Hodgson. He said he would continue to lobby ministers on the issue.
He said the change would have reduced the administrative burden for charities below the threshold who did not want to register. However, he said there would have been the option for small charities to register with the commission online.
Lord Hodgson said the recommendation would have also relieved the commission of its duty to effectively regulate all of the charities on its register.
"It made the commission open up to the fact that they simply cannot regulate 160,000 charities," he said. "They are quite unfairly believed by the public to regulate every single charity, from the biggest to the smallest. It cannot be done."
The government also rejected Hodgson’s recommendation that trusteeships should be limited to three terms of no more than three years. Hodgson said the government had misunderstood his recommendation.
"I never suggested that trustees should compulsorily retire after nine years," he said. In some cases it was appropriate for trustees to remain in post for many years, he said, such as in cases where individuals or their relatives had given money to set up a charitable trust.
Requiring charities to review their boards would "keep the charities and the sector fresh", he said.
- Read other stories on the government's response to Lord Hodgson and PASC's reports by visiting our Big Issue