Charity Commission finds sufficient public benefit at Plymouth Brethren trusts

Written by Matt Ritchie

A Charity Commission review has found sufficient evidence of public benefit in Plymouth Brethren Gospel Hall Trusts.

The regulator also said its work has not identified any significant regulatory issues relating to the charities’ compliance with their governing documents.

The PBCC is is a non-hierarchical church. Each Gospel Hall Trust is governed by a Trust Deed as amended by a Deed of Variation setting out the core religious doctrine and some of the practices of the PBCC.

Over 100 Gospel Hall Trusts have been registered since 2013; and the regulator selected 24 for monitoring to ensure they were complying with their governing documents. The review sample included some charities who had been the subject of concerns raised with the commission.

Announcing its findings today, the regulator said it had seen sufficient evidence of each charity’s engagement with the wider community to demonstrate public benefit. The monitoring found no significant regulatory issues, but the commission has provided regulatory advice in a number of areas.

The commission said it spoke to a number of individuals concerned about the treatment of former members at Gospel Hall Trusts. The regulator said trustees of Gospel Hall Trusts are not responsible for the behaviour of individual members, but said it expects trustees to ensure the Deed of Variation is readily available to members and to have regular discussions with them about its provisions.

Trustees had acted in accordance with the requirement for compassion set out in the Deed of Variation, the commission said.

Charity Commission director of investigations, monitoring, and enforcement Michelle Russell said the case was an example of the regulator's proactive case work focused on recently registered charities.

“Our aim in monitoring new charities is to ensure they are operating in line with their governing document, and are following any regulatory advice and guidance, to help ensure that the public can support charities with confidence,” Russell said. “In this case, our review is able to provide public reassurance that the trustees of Gospel Hall Trusts are taking steps to embed the principles of the Deed of Variation in the running of their charities; we have provided regulatory guidance to some individual trusts and expect them to follow that advice consistently.”

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