Small charities 'need help to cope with Act'

Nathalie Thomas and Helen Barrett

The Directory for Social Change has called for an independent organisation to be set up to give free legal advice to small charities that experience problems with the new Charities Act.

"It is not realistic to expect small charities with limited resources to have to comply with all of the same rules and regulations that large organisations have to follow," said Ben Wittenberg, head of policy and research at the DSC. "There should be a resource for them to access help, support and advice."

Some organisations will need more help than can be found in Charity Commission guidance, he added. He said that it was unfair for low-income charities to pay for legal services to ensure compliance.

The DSC has not yet approached anyone about funding such a legal centre, but Wittenberg stressed that the cost should not fall on the sector.

Meanwhile, the Charity Commission has said it needs "necessary resources" before it is able to implement a new system for licensing public charitable collections, as stipulated in the Act. "We don't envisage taking on this function for a few years yet," said a spokeswoman.

- See Feature, page 16.

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