The Charity Commission has welcomed the publication of the Charities Bill, and the Government response to the Scrutiny Committee’s recommendations which is also published today.
The Charities Bill was announced in the Queen’s Speech on 23 November 2004 and includes a number of provisions. It is designed to produce greater empowerment of the charitable sector and includes a defined role for the Charity Commission both to ensure compliance and engender accountability.
Its publication is a further step in the process of it becoming law.
The Commission says that the Bill will “provide greater freedom for charities to operate within a more flexible legal framework which will help them respond to changes in society.”
It establishes a new structure for charities – the Charitable Incorporated Organisation which will simplify administration and reduce risk for charities which want to be companies.
It provides new descriptions for charitable purposes, and places benefit to the public at the heart of charitable action. This latter provision has generated considerable debate, particularly over the future of private schools as registered charities.
The Bill also includes, for the first time, a new role for the Charity Commission as part of a modernised regime to regulate anyone collecting funds in public places for good causes.
Geraldine Peacock, Chairman of the Charity Commission, said: “We warmly welcome the Government’s statement that the Commission’s independence is of paramount importance for the proper regulation of charities and for public confidence in charities.
“We welcome the increased flexibility for charities to evolve and grow. Charitable endeavour is at the heart of modern society. The Bill provides a legal structure and support framework to enable charities to feel the pulse of the communities they serve and help individuals to achieve their aspirations.”
The text of the Charities Bill, Explanatory Notes and the Government’s response to the findings of the Joint Committee is available online from the Parliament UK website (under Public Bills) and from the Home Office.