Charities are urging the government to ensure that the proposals for reform of the charity sector contained in the Cabinet Office Strategy Unit report, published yesterday, should be implemented as quickly as possible.
The sector’s response has largely been positive. Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), has called for a charity bill to be introduced in the Queen’s Speech next year.
He said: “It is a great boost for the charity sector that the government’s strategy unit has decided to move in favour of a universal public benefit test and robust reform of the charity commission.”
It is not clear however whether the reforms will result in the loss of tax advantages for public schools, religious organisations and private hospitals that currently have charitable status.
Similarly there are concerns that the introduction of standard reporting returns might lead to league tables of charities. Many charities are concerned that comparisons based on such figures could be misleading and would need substantial explanation of the complexities involved.
The recommendation for a new independent regulatory body for fundraisers has raised some concerns. Its relation to the Institute of Fundraising will of course be essential to iron out. Charging charities to become members of the body was criticised by a number of senior fundraisers who argued that this should be the job of government.
The Strategy Unit will consult on its findings over the next three months.
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