Joe Irvin, Chief Executive of NAVCA, appeared today (Tuesday 23 October) before the Public Accounts Select Committee (PASC) to give evidence. The committee held the session as part of their scrutiny inquiry into the implementation and operation of the Charities Act 2006. In particular they are looking into the recommendations made by Lord Hodgson in his report on the regulation of the Charitable Sector and the Charities Act 2006.
Joe Irvin appeared as a witness alongside Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive NCVO, Stephen Bubb, Chief Executive ACEVO and Cath Lee, Chief Executive of the Small Charities Coalition.
The committee explored issues including:
- The effect of cuts in the budget of the Charity Commission
- Fee charging by the Charity Commission and charging fines
- The registration of Charities and the definition of public benefit
- Raising the threshold for charities to £25,000 for registration with the Charities Commission
- Paying trustees
- Charity Ombudsman
- Rules on political campaigning for charities
Joe Irvin told the committee that he was concerned about the recommendation to raise the threshold at which charities can register with the Charity Commission from £5,000 to £25,000. Joe told PASC that “to raise the threshold and say that those below it are ‘second class citizens’ will cause severe problems for smaller charities.”
Joe questioned why the recommendation was made, saying to the committee, “just as small and start-up businesses are important to the economy, small and start-up charities are important to the charity sector. Why would you want to make it hard for new charities to register?”
The Committee debated the recommendation to make it easier to pay trustees. Joe supported the argument made by Stuart Etherington of NCVO that trustees should not be paid.
The committee hearing ended on the issue of political campaigning. Joe told the committee that he felt current rules are just about right but warned against any moves to restrict the rights of charities to campaign. Joe said, “there ought to be independent campaigning charities. The state should not buy silence and compliance.”
More information about the committee and their work can be found on the Parliament website.