The chair of the Charity Commission has warned MPs that the regulator “wouldn’t be able to do the job at all” if it faces further cuts to its budget in this month's spending review.
William Shawcross (pictured) was speaking to the Public Accounts and Constitutional Affairs Committee during an inquiry on fundraising regulation. He said that the Charity Commission has neither the budget nor the staff to properly regulate fundraising on its own.
He said that cuts to the charity regulator's budget and the resulting reduction in staff meant that the regulator was struggling to do its existing role, let alone take on something new.
He said that as a result of cuts to the regulator's budget it was looking to charge charities for its services.
“About 10 years ago, long before I joined the Charity Commission, the organisation had about 600 staff," Shawcross said. "Now it’s about 290 or 300.”
He that funding to the regulator has fallen from £40m to around £21m in the last few years.
“It is quite difficult for us to do our job as well as we’d like to at the moment,” said Shawcross. He warned that any further cuts to the regulator’s funding would mean the Commission “wouldn’t be able to do the job at all”.
Shawcross said that if the charity regulator was to be called upon to regulate fundraising, it would need “a new remit from parliament, new powers, new resources and time” but said he “really hopes it doesn’t come to that”.
When asked if the recommendations of the Etherington Review represented the “last chance” for fundraising self-regulation, Shawcross agreed and said “I hope it [implementation of the review] works so that the heavy arm of the state isn’t put upon the charity sector”.
Shawcross also said that the Charity Commission would second a member of staff to the new fundraising regulator for a period of six months once the chair and chief executive of the regulator has been announced.
The chair of the regulator also defended the Charity Commission over its actions during fundraising’s ‘summer of discontent’, saying that legislation in the Charities Act meant that it was not the role of the commission to regulate fundraising.
“We may well be the police force of the charity sector,” said Shawcross. “But we’re not the Stasi.”
(Source: Civil Society)