The Charity Commission for England and Wales has urged all charities to become members of voluntary sector umbrella bodies in a bid to increase self regulation within the sector,  Civil Society Media revealed.

Dame Suzi Leather, Chair of the Charity Commission said umbrella bodies should take on the role of advisor currently held by the Commission as a means of increasing self-reliance:

“There have been discussions about an umbrella support coalition of sector groups taking on an advice function that feeds off charity commission guidance. Then, we could deal with a limited number of umbrellas rather than 180,000 charities”.

The Commission’s chief executive said that it would not be in a position to provide financial support to umbrella groups to take on this additional service but noted that increased membership would bring in additional financial resources.

Dame Suzi added that increased membership would bring benefit to both umbrella bodies and the Commission:

“It won’t happen overnight. But more membership means more income and more profile. In turn umbrellas could help us ensure that members do accounts on time”.

Some umbrella bodies have slammed the idea, criticising the Commission for expecting umbrella organisations to deal with the inevitable influx of advice queries from charities without any additional financial resources.

The charity sector in England and Wales is regulated by the Charity Commission, an independent body which seeks to ensure that charities work effectively. Amongst other powers, the Commission monitors compliance with charity law and acts on cases of abuse and bad practice. Most charities must register with the commission prior to operation.

Ireland has a long way to go in terms of reaching these standards of charity regulation. Steps have been made to revamp the sector with the enactment of the Charities Act 2009 but the provisions set out are yet to be actively implemented.

Source: Civil Society Media