Thursday, 15 December 2016

Charity Commission responds to official warnings and trustee disqualification consultations

Commission gives further clarity to its approach to using new powers


The Charity Commission, the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, has today published its responses, and supplementary information, following the consultations held on the implementation of 2 new statutory powers - the power to issue official warnings, and the power to disqualify individuals from trusteeship. The Commission was granted these powers under the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016.
In total, the Commission received almost 100 responses to the 2 consultations. It then held further workshops and focused discussion groups with key interested parties and stakeholders in order to further inform its work. The feedback was largely focused on additional information and clarity in how the Commission would approach the use of these powers.
The constructive feedback that was given has been helpful in identifying this further information. The Commission has listened to these considerations and has published a number of documents to meet those needs. These documents provide detailed information and answer a number of the questions raised. The Commission’s approach to using the powers remains guided by the intent and wording of the legislation.
With regards to the official warning power, a number of responses asked for further clarity on the Commission’s approach to issuing warnings, the notice period and process for representations, as well as the approach to publication of warnings. In response the Commission has:
  • published a Q and A document which addresses many of the practical issues as to how warnings will be implemented
  • confirmed the Commission will give 28 days notice, unless there are specific reasons for longer or shorter periods
  • confirmed the wide range of issues on which representations can be made, as well as the process by which they will be addressed
  • confirmed decisions on publication will be made on a case-by-case basis and published the criteria that staff will take into account
With regards to the power to disqualify trustees, some responses requested clarity on the general approach and the process regarding use of the power, as well as further information on the decision making regarding length of disqualification. In response, the Commission has:
  • published a revised explanatory statement on the criteria to be met under the legislative test, and on its approach to the three disqualification bands determining the length of period an individual will be disqualified for
  • published a Q and A document to accompany the explanatory statement which address many of the practical issues of the process the commission will follow for making a disqualification order and the implications for a person who is disqualified

Sarah Atkinson, Director of Policy and Communications at the Charity Commission, said:

"We received a good deal of valuable input from stakeholders and this in itself shows the benefits of a proper consultation process. We are grateful to those who have contributed.
The Commission’s approach to using these powers has to be guided by the legislation and by parliament. These will be useful tools in our armoury to tackle abuse.
We are pleased to be able to provide further clarity on our approach and further detail for charities and trustees who are interested in how we will use these powers."
The Commission has published the consultation response, a Q and A document and the subsequent operational guidance for staff regarding the Official Warning power.
The Commission has published the consultation response, a Q and A document and the explanatory statement regarding the Disqualification power.
(source: Charity Commission)

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