DSC reveals toolkit to monitor Charity Commission’s political independence

Written by Lauren Weymouth

The Directory of Social Change has unveiled a new toolkit, designed to question and monitor the Charity Commission’s political independence.

The new toolkit, Three Pillars of Independence, published today by the DSC, follows widely-held concerns about the political bias of former-Charity Commission chair William Shawcross and the subsequent appointment process of his replacement, Baroness Stowell.

Stowell was appointed against the unanimous advice of a parliamentary scrutiny committee and leading charities, calling for questioning over the impartiality of regulatory appointments.

The DSC’s Three Pillars of Independence sets out how the Commission can be monitored to guard against encroachment on the regulator’s independent decision-making.

It claims the three key things to consider when it comes to the Charity Commission are: independence from party politics, populism and the press.

The document sets out the principles and context, and gives a list of practical questions, which anyone can ask to assess.

Commenting on the document, DSC’s director of policy and research, Jay Kennedy, said: “Recent governments have sought leverage over the Charity Commission via the appointments process.

“To anyone paying attention it’s obvious that relevant administrative expertise, experience of charities, or knowledge of charity law has been secondary to other considerations. This is a deeply disturbing trend.

“Charity trustees need confidence that their regulator is operating in an objective way, based on the law and evidence, not unduly influenced by political rhetoric or press hyperbole. We’ve published this toolkit as a bulwark to support the Commission’s independence and confidence in its legally-binding judgments. We encourage others to use it, and hope it makes the job easier for everybody in the sector and beyond.”

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