Charity commission given new powers and additional funding

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The Treasury announced new funding this week to help the Charity Commission prioritise its monitoring and enforcement work. By investing £8 million over the next three years, the government aims to help the Commission crack down on bogus charitable activities which divert cash to terrorism and other criminal activity such as tax avoidance and fraud.  

The money will primarily be invested in technology and frontline operations, so that it can streamline its lower risk work and redeploy resources to focus on identifying abuse and mismanagement in charities.  The Commission will also receive an additional £1 million in general funding for 2015-16 to fund immediate resource needs in investigations, monitoring and enforcement.

The government also announced new powers for the Charity Commission this week when it published the Draft Protection of Charities Bill.  The new powers include an automatic ban on anyone with convictions for certain criminal offences becoming a trustee of a charity and the power for the Commission to disqualify anyone they consider unfit. It will also be allowed to shut down charities under investigation to protect public confidence, to issue an official warning in less serious cases and to prevent people resigning to avoid disqualification before returning in another guise.

Commission chairman Sir William Shawcross welcomed the extra powers but is calling on the government to go even further and ensure, for example that anyone disqualified from trusteeship is also banned from taking up other key roles in charities, such as treasurer or finance director. The Commission hopes that this and other recommendations proposed by the Commission are incorporated in the final legislation.

For advice on how to improve governance arrangements in order to protect your charity against the risk of fraud, abuse and mismanagement, or if you are concerned that your charity may have become victim to fraud or abuse and you need advice on how to manage the situation, please contact Elizabeth Davis in the Charities team on 0238 085 7011.

Read the Commission's press release here. 

Read the Draft Protection of Charities Bill.