Public and sector split over Charity Commission funding model

Most charities believe the Charity Commission should be funded entirely through general taxation, according to new research, while the public largely feel the cost of regulation should be partly or wholly met by charities themselves.

Charity Commission research into trust and confidence in the organisation found that just 23 per cent of charities agree that they should meet some or all of the regulator’s costs. Sixty-eight per cent felt the regulator should be funded through taxes.

But 69 per cent of the public felt the regulator should be partly or wholly funded by charities, and just 25 per cent thought government funds should meet the cost.

The Charity Commission has had its budget cut in real terms by 50 per cent since 2007, from £31.7m to £21.4m. Chair William Shawcross has several times publicly raised the possibility of some sort of levy arrangement being introduced to meet some of the regulator’s costs, and meetings have been held with sector bodies to discuss the options.

Commenting on the research, Shawcross said it clearly showed a majority of the public would like charities to make a contribution to their own regulation while most of the sector disagreed.

“We must look into all the options for placing the commission’s funding on a more secure footing and I want to continue the discussions I have begun with senior charity people to understand their perspectives on this question.”

ACEVO chief executive Sir Stephen Bubb said that there was “clearly no mandate” for charities to be charged for the commission’s work.

“Its own research tells us that 68 per cent of charities do not agree with this proposal. ACEVO’s own survey found that 75 per cent of our members disagree. There would be ongoing questions around governance and probity of such an arrangement. The regulator must take heed of this consensus rather than pursue the agenda regardless.”

The survey by Populus involved 1,001 telephone interviews with the general public, 1,131 online interviews with charities, and 22 in-depth telephone interviews with key stakeholders.

The commission said the results showed a “strong consensus” that its regulatory approach is the right one, with 72 per cent of the general public and 75 per cent of charities stating charities are regulated effectively.

New powers for the commission also drew support. As the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill progresses through the legislative process, 83 per cent of the public and 92 per cent of charities support new powers for the regulator.

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