Commission guidance on EU referendum gets ‘helpful’ revision

The Charity Commission has provided “further clarity to EU referendum guidance” following strong sector criticism of its original version.

See VoluntaryNews previous article – ‘Charity Commission EU referendum “negative” guidance’ for background. Charity Commission news release or download the guidance (pdf, 165KB) direct.

Also read the Commission’s Director of Policy and Communications blog item on why the changes to the wording have been made – ‘Three questions answered on our EU Referendum Guidance‘. Civil Society News coverage looks at this and more on sector criticism.

NCVO’s chief executive welcomed the revision: “The change in tone is helpful but a number of inconsistencies remain – on the one hand it is helpful that the Commission recognises that there are often factors beyond a charities’ control, however the new guidance continues to state that charities ‘must not allow’ their positions to be misconstrued.”

Charity lawyers Bates Wells Braithwaite had earlier prepared a detailed briefing (pdf, 252KB) on their analysis of the original guidance and the underlying law. In BWB’s view, “the new guidance misrepresents the law, is contradictory in a number of areas and fails to resolve some of the ambiguities we previously identified in existing guidance” – from BWB EU Referendum and Lobbying Act update article.

Northern Ireland’s official guidance

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has now published its own guidance for charities on the EU referendum.

The Chief Charity Commissioner says:

“While campaigning can be a legitimate way for a charity to work to achieve its charitable purposes, it’s important to be aware of the restrictions around what a charity can and cannot do.

“Our new guidance is a useful, practical guide aimed at helping charity trustees to understand these restrictions and to make the right decisions for their charity.

“A charity’s reputation is one of their key assets – my advice to trustees is to ensure you are not putting that reputation at risk by acting without an awareness of the law.”

See CCNI news item for link to the guidance.