Joe Saxton: Wales needs its own charity regulator

Wales needs a charity regulator of its own because the Charity Commission 'does not serve Wales well’, charity consultant Joe Saxton has said.

Addressing an audience of charity sector professionals at the gofod3 conference in Cardiff today, Saxton said charity regulation should not be tied to English needs and should reflect the individual needs of Welsh charities.

“The geography, economy, culture, and demographics of Wales all combine to mean that the political, regulatory and legal solutions that work for England won’t necessarily be the best for Wales,” he said.

“So why should charity regulation be tied to English needs, and not be able to reflect the Welsh situation? The Welsh government has ambitious plans to increase the number of Welsh speakers; however, Welsh language information on the Commission website is limited. This is one simple example of where the current regulatory regime doesn’t serve Wales well.”

Saxton explained how charity regulation in Wales should be accountable to the Welsh government.

“Who has the power to make charities and community organisations in Wales flourish; the Westminster government, or the Welsh government?

“I think, for most people, the answer would be very clear – the Welsh government. And if that is the case, then charity regulation in Wales should be accountable to the Welsh government, not Westminster.”

The Charity Commission currently has an office in Wales, which operates in both Welsh and English. However, Saxton claims having a regulator that serves both England and Wales is an ‘anomaly’.

“Many regulators in other sectors are stand-alone Welsh specific bodies: Wales Audit Office, Care Inspectorate Wales, Natural Resources Wales, Estyn (their equivalent to Ofsted) and the like.

“Or there are the UK-wide bodies, which regulate across all of the UK or GB which is the structure that Ofcom and Ofgem have.”

He added that other devolved countries have regulator’s of their own, notably Scotland has the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) and Northern Ireland has the Charity Commission NI.

“The logic of a devolved charity regulator is strong – the charity sectors in each country are different and require a different style of regulation: that is as true for Wales as it is about Scotland and NI.”

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