As the Charity Commission uses its latest consultation to up the ante on the highly sensitive issue of campaign spending, think tank NPC has warned the regulator about how this move might be perceived.
The latest Charity Commission consultation, which closed yesterday, proposed new requirements on charities to declare their campaign spending. NPC’s response welcomes the proposals, with clear provisos to ensure that any new rules don’t create an unfair burden for charities. But Chief Executive Dan Corry also warned the Commission that it risks questions about its ‘motivation’ in looking so closely at this issue, alongside other controversial questions about executive pay and earnings from private and public sources.
With the Lobbying Bill still attracting such controversy and fresh political attacks on campaigning charities, Corry argues that there must be no ‘slippery slope’ towards attempts to curtail charities’ legitimate right to campaign.
NPC supports greater transparency in a sector which commands billions of pounds a year and employs more than 700,000 paid staff. However, the think tank has outlined its Five Principles, a set of fair and sensible rules to which that all data requested must adhere:
- The data collected must make sense and must be properly comparable across time and across charities.
- Requirements must not impose unfair and unnecessary burdens on charities, especially smaller ones
- Any changes should be tested, and piloted before being introduced.
- The Charity Commission should be clear how they will use, publish and make available the data before the requirements are brought in.
- There must be no implicit favouring of one charity model over another, and absolutely no ‘slippery slope’ towards using this data to question the charitable status of some organisations.
‘We would like to see a drive for transparency across the whole sector.
‘Indeed, to focus so closely on the area of campaigning might be thought of as having other motivations, given the recent Lobbying Act. The Charity Commission should consult on what other categories of spend would be usefully collected’