A place on the charity register 'should not be for life', says chair of regulator

Writing for The Times, Baroness Stowell says the register of charities should not be considered a private members' club

Baroness Stowell
Baroness Stowell

The charity register should not be like a private members’ club that offers a place for life for those organisations that are on it, the chair of the Charity Commission has said. 

Writing for The Times newspaper this week, Baroness Stowell suggested another look at how organisations are given charitable status and how “the wrongdoers and moribund” might lose the privilege. 

“The charity sector needs to embrace a new generation of organisations with their own ideas for strengthening their communities and wider society,” she wrote.

“The charity register should not be like a private members’ club: difficult to join, but offering a place for life once you get in.

“Instead, it should be a snapshot that captures the vast array of efforts being made in this country to improve lives and strengthen society at any given time. 

“The Charity Commission will be better equipped to do this if we look again at how we make acquiring registered status possible, as well as what we can do to deprive the wrongdoers and moribund of the status once they have it.”

The definition of a charity is set by parliament through charity law, but the commission decides if an organisation fits within any of the criteria when considering an application for charitable status. 

The regulator declined to provide any further detail on Stowell’s comments when asked by Third Sector

Stowell said in her column: “As we return to normality by degrees, it is better that we do so with a clear-eyed understanding of where charity stands rather than falling back on wishful thinking. 

“The brightest future lies with those causes and organisations who understand and respect what charity means in the hearts and minds of the public and are prepared to stand behind the difference they make, but also the way in which they make it.”

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