New bill drafted to simplify charity law

Charities Bill brings together existing statutes but leaves out unused legislation that would make the Charity Commission the lead regulator for street and door-to-door fundraising

Charity Commission
Charity Commission

A new Charities Bill, aimed at consolidating existing areas of charity law, has been put before parliament.

The bill will include law from the Recreational Charities Act 1958, the Charities Act 1993 and the Charities Act 2006.

It brings together existing charity law with the exception of part 3 of the 2006 act, which would make the Charity Commission the lead regulator of public charitable collections but has never been activated.

The bill says street and door-to-door fundraisers would be required to obtain Public Collection Certificates from the commission, and street fundraisers would also require local authority permits.

Third Sector reported in August that implementation of the legislation had been postponed indefinitely and it would be reconsidered as part of the review of the 2006 act that is due to begin this year.

The commission, which has suffered significant budget cuts, has said it would not be able to take on new duties without more resources.

A spokeswoman for the Office for Civil Society, which is responsible for the new bill, said the part 3 provisions had not been included because they related to "areas of law that go much wider than charity law". She said the provisions still existed in law but confirmed that they would be reviewed later this year.

The new bill is intended to make charity law simpler and more accessible. It has gone before the House of Lords and will pass through the House of Commons once its third reading has taken place in the Lords.

The OCS spokeswoman said the bill simplified existing charity law and had been introduced because it was considered unjust for legislation to be so complex that it was inaccessible to those it affected.

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