Charity Commission significantly overstretched - Sussex

Written by Matt Ritchie

Former Charity Commission chief executive Paula Sussex has issued a plea to government to properly fund the regulator or allow it to collect some of its funding from charities.

Sussex said the commission has made significant process in improving its monitoring, transparency around charity data, and clarity of guidance since a one-off Treasury grant three years ago.

However, Sussex wrote in the Financial Times that progress “must not mask the precariousness of the financial situation the commission finds itself in”. The regulator is “significantly overstretched”, she said, and there are no further savings to be made now the commission has cut back to reflect the halving of its budget in the past 10 years.

“Any further cuts to the budget would threaten the regulatory model,” Sussex wrote. “The commission would be faced with difficult choices: does it stop providing the full range of guidance to well-meaning trustees who carry such heavy responsibilities? Does it cease maintaining the online register of charities, used 13 million times last year by members of the public to make informed choices about the charities they support? Does it cease all case work with charities, save for formal statutory inquiries into the most serious abuses?”

The former chief executive therefore called for the government to adequately fund the regulator to continue to function, or offer permission for it to collect a levy from those it oversees.

“And charities themselves should weigh the pain involved in making a modest contribution towards the costs of an effective commission against the potential price to pay in years ahead if a weakened regulator fails to uphold the public trust on which they depend,” Sussex said.

Paula Sussex led the Charity Commission for three years from June 2014. She has been succeeded by Helen Stephenson CBE, in an appointment announced in May.

Access the full FT article here.

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