Charity Commission suggests how it would use new powers

The Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill, which was part of the legislative programme announced with the Queens Speech (see Overview of new government’s legislative proposals), has been put into the parliamentary system and introduced in the House of Lords on 28th May.

The government press release, which has further details, summarises it as “A bill that would protect charities from serious abuse and give charities the power to make social investments”. The actual bills details are on the Parliament website.

The Charity Commission (England and Wales) has released a policy paper on its initial thinking on how it would use the proposed statutory power to disqualify individuals from acting as trustees. It recognises “that this is a significant new power and would like to offer reassurance that the power will only be used when there is a clear case for doing so”.

Assuming the legislation gets passed, “the Commission will work further on the paper and intends to hold a public consultation on its approach before it is finalised”.

As reported by Civil Society News, the legislation has been met with cautious optimism in the sector. NCVO welcomed it, even though the new powers for the Commission were “unlikely to be used more than a handful of times a year”. NAVCA (local sector support) suggested that the bill was likely to be “of more benefit to the Commission than to charities themselves”, although the added clarity on social investment was welcome. Acevo (charity chief executives body) has doubts about safeguards around the Charity Commission’s new powers.

The Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill is a revised version of the draft Protection of Charities Bill, which was debated in the last parliamentary session- see earlier VoluntaryNews item on the topic.