Paula Sussex says Charity Commission will be a proactive regulator on her watch

And the regulator's chair, William Shawcross, tells its annual public meeting that the recently appointed chief executive's presence is already being felt

Paula Sussex
Paula Sussex

Paula Sussex, the new chief executive of the Charity Commission has said she is turning the organisation from a reactive to a proactive regulator, and the organisation’s chair has told the public that the effects of her transformation are already being felt.

William Shawcross told the regulator’s annual public meeting in London yesterday that Sussex "has already made a huge impact" on the commission since joining in June, including introducing a new management structure.

Recruitment for new management roles is taking place, and it is understood the restructure will lead to a smaller number of senior directors reporting to Sussex than is currently the case.

Shawcross said that Sussex had managed to "change the whole pace of life at the commission", and staff Blackberrys had never seen such levels of use. "We really will be fit for purpose by the time she’s finished with us," he said.

Shawcross told the meeting that inspectors from the National Audit Office, which published a highly critical report on the regulator in December 2013, were "back in our offices doing a follow-up report at the request of the Public Accounts Committee".

Sussex, whose background is in IT and consulting, thanked her colleagues for introducing her to public sector life, joking that they had "shown me the error of my ways" in some areas.

Making her first public appearance since her appointment, Sussex said the commission had previously been a reactive regulator, but would become proactive under her watch.

"I'm delighted to see we're finding our way in very early days as a more proactive body," she said. "We have committed to becoming a risk-based regulator, which is a smarter way to address how we regulate."

Central to this was the organisation’s monitoring team, she said, which looked at trends in the sector in an attempt to anticipate mismanagement or abuse that could arise. "If they detect criminal or fraudulent activity, they will follow through on some of the trends," she said.

Sussex said another key priority for the commission was digitisation – the organisation’s website had recently begun the process of moving to the government portal, and a revamped version of its register of charities was soon to be unveiled, she said.

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