Red tape is slashed for one in three charities

Nearly one-third of the 190,000 charities in England and Wales are to benefit from a significant reduction in paperwork from the Charity Commission's new drive for proportionate regulation.

From this year, the 57,000 charities with an income below £250,000 will be spared filling in part B of the annual return they have to file to the commission.

This is the most detailed section, dealing with fund-raising, trustee benefits, trading and reserves policy. Meanwhile, a part C, the Summary Information Return, has been added, asking charities with income above £1m for extra information.

Andrew Hind, chief executive of the commission, said: "We think this is the first tangible signal of the new direction we're taking. It's a genuine attempt to free charities from red tape and allow them to get on with their jobs."

The move was welcomed by the NCVO and the National Association of Councils for Voluntary Service. Kevin Curley, NACVS chief executive, said it was "absolutely right. It's like the police focusing their energies on the more serious criminals rather than chasing people who smoke a bit of dope."

Hind admitted there was a risk of missing abuse revealed by investigations arising from part B information. "There was a debate in which some colleagues were concerned that the data would no longer be flowing through," he said.

"But the executive group and the board took the view that the overriding commitment to lightening regulation outweighed the concern about the loss of information.

"We think there should be more presumption that smaller charities are acting in good faith. Of course, if people come to us with concerns, we will look at them."

- See News, page 2, and Editorial, page 22.

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