Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter has stated that full implementation of the Charities Act 2009 is not currently feasible due to lack of available resources.
The Minister for Justice was speaking at the annual ICTR conference entitled ‘Whiter or Wither Charities? – that is the question’.
Mr Shatter said that the Charities Act was introduced in a time of extraordinary economic growth and was in hindsight, an ‘idealised’ regulatory framework. In the context of the current economic climate, the Troika agreement and severe cuts to the public sector, the minister stated that the government does not have the resources available to “fully implement the Charities Act on a statutory basis at the moment.”
“Just by way of comparison, the Scottish Charities Regulator, which is perhaps the closest comparator to this jurisdiction, has almost 50 staff to fulfil its statutory functions… In our current circumstances, there is no real likelihood of us matching the Scottish model.”
Whilst asserting that full implementation of the act was not an option for the government at this time, the Justice Minster urged that pragmatic approaches can bring about increased transparency and regulation of the sector.
Mr Shatter said that more ‘buy-in’ from the sector to codes of practice will go a long way towards increasing regulation. The minister referred to the charitable fundraising Codes of Practice as one such method of boosting regulation, but added that more charities needed to sign up in order for it to be effective:
“Despite the considerable efforts and groundwork undertaken by the ICTR, and the substantial investment to date from the Exchequer, the number of charities that have actually signed up so far for the Codes is disappointing. Whilst I would like to publicly acknowledge the fundraising charities that have signed up, the overall level of take-up thus far does not demonstrate the genuine hunger for regulation that representatives of the sector have always asserted exists.”
In the absence of the resources needed to fully implement the Charities Act, the Minister added that such codes of practice serve as ‘ideal forerunners’ in the pursuance of a better governed, more transparent sector.