Red tape and bureaucracy which “too often gets in the way” of charities and voluntary groups needs to be cut, the Government has said.
Announcing a taskforce to tackle the issue Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd said the burden of regulation needs to be eased so that charities can get on with their work.
Lord Hodgson, who will chair the new group, called on charities to come forward with ideas of how best to get rid of the bureaucracy that is holding them up.
The taskforce, which is part of the Big Society strategy, will make recommendations to the Government alongside separate reviews into the Gift Aid system and the cumbersome Criminal Records Bureau checks.
Critics say the Charities Act 2006 has significantly increased the burden on charities.
Before the legislation large voluntary organisations such as the Women’s Institute or the Scouts were covered by their national charity status.
Under the Act, if transitional arrangements come to an end, all Women’s Institutes and Scout troops will each have to register if they have a turnover above £5,000.
In his recent publication, A New Inquisition, Jon Gower Davies commented that “all 13,000 Parochial Church Councils, many of the Finance Committees of the 43 Dioceses, the Archbishops’ Council, the Church Commissioners and the countless host of charitable organisations in whole or in part related to the Church must now satisfy Ms Susie Leather’s Charity Commission that they are of public benefit.”
Lord Hodgson said: “I have accepted this role because I believe that the Government is serious about cutting the burden of red tape for civil society groups.
“I relish this opportunity to try to thin out the red tape that puts people off doing more for their communities and that holds back innovative small organisations from growth.”
Government Minister Mr Hurd said: “This is a tough time for small civil society organisations and we want to make life easier for them. So I have asked for specific ideas on how we can thin the thicket of bureaucracy and regulation that too often gets in the way. I see it very simply. Every pound or hour we can save a small voluntary organisation is a pound or hour that could be better spent.”
Last year a legal expert said the Charity Commission was claiming more authority that the law allows.
Nicola Evans, Senior Associate at Bircham Dyson Bell, said the Commission’s guidance created confusion about what groups will have to do to be recognised as charities.