Warm welcome for review of campaigning rules

The sector has welcomed the news in the third sector review that the Charity Commission is to review CC9, its guidance on campaigning.

Rosie Chapman, director of policy and effectiveness at the Charity Commission confirmed today that it would begin the review in the early autumn.

The Commission published a Q&A document to clarify CC9 in April. Although seen as a positive step, many in the sector felt that it did not go far enough.

Matthew Sowemimo, campaigns and communications manager at the Sheila McKechnie Foundation said: “We warmly welcome this news. Together with other organisations who were part of Baroness Kennedy’s advisory group on campaigning, we made very clear recommendations which we look forward to discussing with the Commission.

“The Q&A was a step in the right direction, but we want to see the removal of the limit on the amount of campaigning an organisation can do.

If an organisation feels that the best way to serve its beneficiaries would be to dedicate 100 per cent of it’s work to campaigning, then it should be able to.”

The review by the advisory group on campaigning, chaired by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC and published in April, recommended that the Commission scrap the ‘dominant/ancillary’ rule that means charities can only engage in political campaigning if it remains subordinate to their main activity.

Ian Leggett, director of the environmental group People and Planet has been campaigning for a review of CC9 since 2005, and said that he hoped the review would address this anomaly.

“We are absolutely delighted with the announcement and look forward to addressing key issues that stop smaller organisations from campaigning.
“We would like to see the removal of the dominant/ancillary rule. It means that you have a crazy situation where a smaller organisation can dedicate the same percentage of its work to campaigning as a larger one, but get into trouble. Oxfam can dedicate the same proportion, but because it takes up fewer of its resources, that’s considered fine.”

Chapman said: "For many charities, campaigning and political activities are an essential part of their existence, and we're keen wherever possible to protect the campaigning role of the sector.

“ With this in mind we will be reviewing our guidance for charities on campaigning and political activities in the early autumn.”

“As part of our review, we'll consider the recommendations put forward in the advisory group on campaigning and the third sector review to see if more can be done to clarify our guidance and give charities even more confidence to speak out on behalf of their beneficiaries."

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