Etherington: Stowell needs to set her own agenda; 'regulation by red top doesn’t work'

Written by Lauren Weymouth

Baroness Stowell needs to set her own agenda as chair of the Charity Commission because "regulation by red top simply does not work", NCVO chief Sir Stuart Etherington has said.

Speaking at the Charity Regulation Conference in Salford yesterday, Etherington said Stowell’s agenda for the Commission must be “distinctly different” to that of the Shawcross years.

“For me that means being clear on what the Commission can do that no one else can to build public trust and confidence and addressing those you see taking advantage of charities, investigating wrong doing and maintaining,” he said.

“There also needs to be clarity over what they cannot do given their resources and what should be left to charity trustees and bodies like the NCVO and the Association of Charis, which have stepped up significantly to provide guidance and support.”

“Some of the changes that the new chair needs to make are about the tone of the Charity Commission and the messages it gives. Regulation by red top simply does not work.”

Etherington also drew reference to the Charity Commission's appointment process, claiming it is important to “distinguish between the person and process” and “between the particulars and the principals”.

“For years, the NCVO has been arguing that the process for appointing the Charity Commission chair needs to change, to remove it from any political influence and ensure the chair is independent,” he told delegates.

However, he said he has welcomed the appointment of Stowell after interviewing her and understanding her “excellent credentials”.

“But that doesn’t mean that we won’t continue to raise out concerns about the process and call for improvement. If we can get the process right, we can hopefully lay our concerns of many years to rest."

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