Parliament should amend trustees' duties to focus more on mission, NPC manifesto says

The pre-election document published by the think tank says trustees should be required to report each year on the effectiveness of the charity


Parliament should consider redrafting the obligations on trustees in order to compel them to focus less on the survival of their charity and more on realising its charitable mission, the think tank NPC has proposed.

In its election manifesto, A Vision for Change, launched today, NPC calls on the Charity Commission to work with parliament to amend trustees’ duties in order to maximise the impact of the charities they oversee.

The document says that trustees should be required to report each year on the effectiveness of the organisation in achieving its core mission and how it plans to improve. The manifesto says this would act as a "powerful nudge to more impact-driven behaviour".

It proposes that the commission should have stricter powers to sanction charities that repeatedly break regulations.

The manifesto covers four areas: ensuring that the voluntary sector plays a strong role in creating a better society; supporting innovation so that the most ambitious charities can do more with the resources they have; building trust in the work of charities; and guaranteeing fair public services commissioning in the future, including the government awarding a minimum of 10 per cent of new contracts to charities and not-for-profit organisations as the prime provider.

Other proposals include a new Treasury policy to re-route regulatory fines from consumer industries to fund effective local charities and community groups in deprived communities.

This would be similar to the approach used to distribute Libor and Forex trading fines on an ad hoc basis to armed forces and emergency service charities.

The charities in receipt of the fines would be working to redress problems caused by the fined companies – for example, fines against payday lenders would be distributed to local debt advisers.

The NPC document says the income would vary from year to year, but it calculates that such a policy would have led to the redistribution of at least £443m over the financial year 2013/14.   

The manifesto proposes that a £30m innovation fund should be established at the Big Lottery Fund to support charities that want to test ideas in order to scale up their work and reach more beneficiaries.

The manifesto says there should be a "data shake-up" in Whitehall to build on the success of the Ministry of Justice data lab pilot, which allowed charities to use administrative data to assess the effectiveness of rehabilitation projects. This pilot should be rolled out across every government department, the document says.

Dan Corry, chief executive of NPC, said: "As we accelerate towards the 2015 general election, ministers, funders and charities themselves can all change the way they work to make the sector even stronger, from small changes to ambitious reforms."

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