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The Charity Commission's Powers

Volume 571: debated on Wednesday 4 December 2013

I am today publishing for public consultation a range of proposals to strengthen the powers of the Charity Commission to tackle serious abuse in charities and to extend the range of criminal offences that would disqualify people from being a charity trustee. The consultation will run until 12 February 2014.

Deliberate abuse of charities remains rare, but where it does take place it is important that the Charity Commission has the tools it needs to act swiftly and decisively to protect public trust and confidence in charities. The National Audit Office has criticised the Charity Commission for failing to effectively regulate charities. The Charity Commission has accepted that it needs to improve its regulatory effectiveness, and there is already evidence of progress under the direction of its new board.

The National Audit Office also recommended that Cabinet Office support a legislative bid for stronger Charity Commission powers. The proposed changes on which we are consulting have been requested by the Charity Commission, which fully supports this consultation.

The changes include:

proposals to extend the criminal offences which automatically bar a person from acting as a charity trustee; a proposal for a new discretionary power for the Charity Commission to disqualify a person who is unfit from acting as a charity trustee; a proposed new power to enable the Charity Commission to effectively close down a charity; a proposed new statutory warning power; extensions of several existing powers and technical changes to close various loopholes.

I am particularly keen for charities and their representative bodies to contribute their views in the consultation and help to shape and prioritise the proposed changes. These changes will benefit charities as they will promote public trust and confidence in the effective regulation of charities.

The consultation is available on and I have arranged for copies to be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.