Call for evidence from Charities Act review

Questionnaires have been issued by the Office for Civil Society, as part of the review of the Charities Act by Lord Hodgson, asking whether there are too many charities, whether charities are accountable enough to the public and whether there should be a statutory definition of public benefit.

The two general questionnaires, one for charities and one for the public, are supplemented by shorter questionnaires on nine specific areas, including the definition of charity, the role of the Charity Commission and charity mergers. Both the charity and public questionnaires ask:

  • Some people think that there are too many charities, and that this results in duplication and inefficiency. Is this a problem, and if so what could be done to address it?
  • Do you believe that charities are sufficiently accountable to the public?
  • Should charities pay an annual charge to cover the costs of running the Charity Commission?
  • Should there be a charities ombudsman?
  • Should charities be able to pay their trustees?
  • Should self-regulation of fundraising be compulsory for fundraising charities and should there be stronger statutory regulation of fundraising?
  • Should the functions of a charity regulator include determining whether institutions are or are not charities and resolving disputes within charities about their governance or activities?
  • Do you agree with the statement \"Where a charity charges high fees to provide its services, it should, where possible, make more than minimal provision for those who cannot afford the fees\"?

The questionnaire for charities also asks:

  • Do you consider the renewed emphasis on the public benefit requirement, and reporting on public benefit, has been helpful or not?
  • Should the £100,000 income threshold above which excepted charities are required to register should be lowered?

The questionnaires and calls for evidence are available at The closing date for responses is 16 April, with five events taking place across England and Wales in February and March to discuss the review further. The review is due to be completed and presented to parliament before the summer recess.