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Review of charity law

8 November 2011
CAB 224-11 

Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society, today announced that Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts will lead a full review of the law relating to charities in England and Wales. Lord Hodgson will report to Parliament by summer 2012.

The Charities Act 2006 made a number of changes to the legal framework for charities. Parliament agreed that the Act should be reviewed after five years to test its effectiveness. The review will consider a broad range of issues, including the definition of charity, and the role and status of the Charity Commission as the sector’s regulator. It will also look at further reducing the burden of regulation whilst preserving safeguards that protect the public interest.

Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society, said:

This is an important opportunity to get the legal framework for charities right. Charities play a hugely important role in society and must be supported with a clear and effective legal framework. I want to see less red tape for charities and smarter safeguards so the public can be more confident in their support for charities. Lord Hodgson has a wealth of knowledge and experience in this field and will conduct a thorough review. I look forward to his recommendations.

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts said:

I want to discover where the legal framework is working and where it’s letting charities and the public down so we can try and put it right. The Charities Act 2006 changed the legal framework and it is right that the effect of these changes should now be assessed. It is also important that the law be made fit for purpose looking ahead, given the new challenges and opportunities that charities now face. The work of the Unshackling Good Neighbours Task Force was greatly helped by the evidence and input provided by the sector. I very much hope the sector will help again on this occasion.

Lord Hodgson recently led a ‘Red Tape Task Force’ considering barriers affecting charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises. The recommendations of his Taskforce’s report, ‘Unshackling Good Neighbours’, have been widely welcomed by the charity sector.

He is President of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), Chairman of the Armed Forces Charities Advisory Company and a trustee of Fair Trials International. During his long career in the City, he played an important role in improving regulation (he was a founder director of the Securities and Investment Board and a director of the Securities and Futures Authority).  He was made a Life Peer (Conservative) in 2000, and as shadow spokesman on Trade and Industry and Home Affairs (2002-06), led in particular on the Companies Act 2006 and Charities Act 2006, so is very familiar with the subject matter of this review.

Lord Hodgson will issue a call for evidence from charities in due course.

Notes to Editors

  1. Terms of Reference are published here. These include issues that the review must cover, set out in the Charities Act 2006, issues that the Government believes should be addressed, and issues that charities have asked to be considered.
  2. Lord Hodgson will work unremunerated for one day a week on the review. He will be supported by officials from the Office for Civil Society and an expert charity lawyer brought in for up to one day per week and paid at significantly below commercial rates.
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