The Directory of Social Change has created a toolkit to help monitor the Charity Commission’s political independence and guard against encroachment on its decision-making.
DSC says it has launched the toolkit, called Three Pillars of Independence, in response to the concerns seen over the party-political bias of the previous Charity Commission Chair William Shawcross, and the subsequent appointment of Conservative Peer Baroness Stowell to replace him, which was against the unanimous advice of a parliamentary scrutiny committee and charities.
It believes there are three key factors to consider when it comes to the Charity Commission: independence from party politics, from populism and also from the press. The document explains each of these and why they matter, setting out the principles and context, and gives a list of practical questions, which anyone can ask to assess whether the charity regulator is indeed acting independently.
DSC’s Director of Policy and Research, Jay Kennedy said:
“Recent governments have sought leverage over the Charity Commission via the appointments process. To anyone paying attention it’s obvious that relevant administrative expertise, experience of charities, or knowledge of charity law has been secondary to other considerations. This is a deeply disturbing trend.
“Charity trustees need confidence that their regulator is operating in an objective way, based on the law and evidence, not unduly influenced by political rhetoric or press hyperbole. We’ve published this toolkit as a bulwark to support the Commission’s independence and confidence in its legally-binding judgments. We encourage others to use it, and hope it makes the job easier for everybody in the sector and beyond.”
The full toolkit, Three Pillars of Independence, can be found on the Directory of Social Change’s website.
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