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Charities (Regulation)

Volume 511: debated on Wednesday 9 June 2010

The Government are committed to making it easier for people to set up and run charities and to reduce the amount of regulation, monitoring and reporting that has been imposed on the sector. I am meeting the chair and chief executive of the Charity Commission next week to discuss this further.

I welcome my hon. Friend to his post. Will he discuss gift aid at that meeting? At present the administrative burden falls largely on the charities and that should be rectified.

We know how important gift aid is to the sector, and I will meet the Economic Secretary to the Treasury to discuss reform. We have said that we would like to reduce the bureaucratic burden associated with gift aid which falls on charities, and disproportionately on small charities. The Treasury-led gift aid forum is examining the case for reform and will report in September.

I, too, welcome the hon. Gentleman and the other Ministers to the Front Bench. In reviewing the regulation of charities, it is also important to maintain both the capacity and the capability of charities. Perhaps the Minister can therefore explain to the House the reasoning for ending the funding of the Futurebuilders programme, which was widely acclaimed in a recently published evaluation by Sheffield Hallam university, and which is building the capacity of precisely the organisations that the Government want to take more responsibility for delivering services?

We have not closed the funding for Futurebuilders. As the right hon. Lady well knows, Futurebuilders is effectively shut for business. It has spent the money. We have taken a decision to use the future income from the loan book to fund our programmes for training community organisers and a new community grants programme.

That is precisely the problem: the Futurebuilders programme is an investment fund, with loans made that are then recycled to other organisations. The Government have decided to end the programme and, therefore, effectively to shut it. Why?

The programme has run its course, and we have taken a decision on where to recycle the income. We think that the future of loan finance delivery is through the big society bank, and we want to encourage the traditional banking industry to meet the sector’s debt needs. That is the future—not the Futurebuilders programme, which distorted the market, rather than built it.