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New funding and powers to tackle abuse in the charity sector

An additional £8 million of funding to boost the Charity Commission’s ability to tackle abuse, including the use of funds for extremist and terrorist activity, will be announced today by Prime Minister David Cameron, as he chairs a further meeting of the Extremism Taskforce to discuss progress on delivering the government’s counter extremism strategy.

The Charity Commission will receive the funding over 3 years to help re-focus its regulatory activity on proactive monitoring and enforcement in the highest risk areas like abuse of charities for terrorist and other criminal purposes, such as tax avoidance and fraud.

The new funding will be announced as new measures to protect the charity sector from abuse are published in the draft Protection of Charities Bill, following a public consultation last year. The Charity Commission requested strengthened powers as most of its current powers – such as the ability to freeze charity bank accounts, direct the charity to take a specific course of action, suspend or remove the charity’s trustees, or appoint an interim manager to run the charity – are over 20 years old.

The measures in the draft bill include:

  • banning people with convictions for certain criminal offences – such as terrorism or money laundering – from being a charity trustee
  • a new power to disqualify a person from being a charity trustee where the Charity Commission considers them unfit
  • a new power for the Commission to require a charity to shut down in an inquiry where there has been misconduct or mismanagement and allowing the charity to continue would risk undermining public trust and confidence in charities
  • a new power for the Commission to issue an official warning which it could use in less serious cases. The Commission can put this on the charity’s official record and if evidence is found that they have not dealt with the problem then the Commission will take further action
  • closing loopholes that have prevented the Charity Commission from taking enforcement action in the past, such as where trustees have in the past resigned in order to avoid removal and consequent disqualification

Read the draft Protection of Charities Bill.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

I want to build a country which everyone is proud to call home. That’s why I want us to confront the menace of extremism and those who want to tear us apart.

Today’s changes will help make sure that when people donate to charity, their money always goes to genuinely good causes. They will help us become a country that stands even taller in the world, and prouder and stronger too.

Chairman of the Charity Commission William Shawcross said:

I welcome the draft bill. It will give us new powers which will help us to be a more effective regulator. The new power to issue an official warning, for example, will allow us to warn trustees that we are monitoring their compliance with the law in situations where more forceful intervention would not be appropriate. We will play our full part in the pre-legislative scrutiny and will continue to push for more measures included in the consultation to be included in the bill.

Find out more about tackling extremism in the UK.

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