Charity street collectors face crackdown

Councils may get more powers over how often and where ‘chuggers’ collect, under Lord Hodgson’s proposals

Proposals to crack down on charity street collectors and fake door-to-door clothing collections are to be published on Monday after a review of the voluntary sector.

The report by the Conservative peer Lord Hodgson will focus strongly on reducing the regulation of charities, including proposing that larger organisations could automatically pay trustees.

It will propose to ditch the requirement that charities must make investments for maximum profit and make it easier for them to put money into social enterprises. In return, charities will be asked to publish more information about their income and activities.

The civil society minister, Nick Hurd, indicated that the government was willing to support many if not all of the ideas. “We welcome Lord Hodgson’s report and all his recommendations will be carefully considered,” he said.

The proposal to give local councils more powers to regulate how often and where so-called charity muggers, or “chuggers”, collect donations follows research by Ipsos Mori showing that a majority of people want fundraising to be better regulated.

New rules to free charities of the need to invest solely for profit could enable them to fund schemes such as low- or zero-interest loans for young people to start up new businesses, said Simon Steeden, a senior associate at Bates Wells & Braithwaite, a law firm specialising in the charity sector, which helped advise Hodgson.

“The fledging social investment market is beginning to boom,” he said, “so facilitating more social investment activity by charities is very welcome, but should be part of a wider push to ensure that the legal system is as encouraging as possible to those seeking to make a sustainable business out of achieving positive social change.” Steeden said “There is also a lot to do to ensure greater public understanding of social enterprise and social investment, to ensure that the best examples thrive whilst protecting against any abuse of the brand.”

Other suggestions for reducing red tape are expected to include making it easier for charities to sell land, allowing them to file reports online, and a single reporting system for the Charity Commission and Companies House.

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said they welcomed many measures but there were “some bad apples”, including the automatic right of charities with income of more than £1m a year to pay their trustees.

“Large charities can already seek the Charity Commission’s permission if they want to pay their trustees and that system is working well,” he said. “Making the right automatic undermines the value of voluntarism which defines the sector and goes against the public mood.” © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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