Charitable purposes and public benefit
Around 25 new applications for charitable status are received by the Charity Commission every working day. Among the reports findings are: one of the keys tests set by the Charities Act for determining charitable status-the public benefit test-is critically flawed; the Government should revise the statutory objectives for the Charity Commission, to allow the Commission to focus its limited resources on regulating the sector; the proposal to increase the financial threshold for compulsory registration of a charity with the Charity Commission should be rejected; charities should publish their spending on campaigning and political activity.
The Committee also considered the impact of face-to-face fundraising, or "chugging"-on the street or on the doorstep-and warns that self-regulation has failed so far to generate the level of public confidence which is essential to maintain the reputation of the charitable sector.
The evidence was clear that the regulation of fundraising remains a concern for many members of the public. Two in three people have reported feeling uncomfortable as a result of the fundraising methods used by some charities.
This book examines the 'public benefit requirement' which provides that a charity's purposes must be for the public benefit.
This requirement was given statutory force by the Charities Act , which also provided that 'public benefit' is to be construed in accordance with existing case law and not presumed. Author Mary Synge examines guidance published by the Charity Commission in and and measures its accuracy against principles extrapolated from case law, with a focus on fee-charging charities and independent schools. She also considers the implementation of the Charity Commission's public benefit assessments of independent schools during The book offers a comparative study of the law relating to public benefit in Scotland and presents an analysis of the decision of the Upper Tribunal Tax and Chancery in proceedings brought by the Independent Schools Council and Attorney General in It also considers subsequent reviews of the Act by Lord Hodgson and the Public Administration Select Committee and the Government's response to those reviews in September The fact that the law automatically bestows certain privileges on charities, including tax exemptions, means that the charitable status of fee-paying schools has proved particularly contentious and was described by Lord Campbell-Savours as making 'an absolute nonsense' of charity law.
Here, the author asks whether the public benefit requirement, as enacted and interpreted, has succeeded in bringing any sense to English law of charity in recent years. Beginning with an historical overview of developments in voluntary sector-government relations from to , High Ideals and Noble Intentions goes on to explore more recent events and to bring present day policy and practice into focus.
Peter R. Elson examines critical historical events in the relationship between the federal government and the voluntary sector which continue to exert their influence.
He demonstrates through in-depth case studies that these events are critical to understanding contemporary voluntary sector-government relations. Elson explores the impact of the regulation of charities based on amendments to the Income War Tax Act; the shift from citizen-based program funding to service-based contract funding in the mids; and advocacy regulation changes in the s.
Elson's case is strengthened by an important and timely comparison between voluntary sector and central government relations in Canada and England. This historically informed comparative analysis provides the basis for practical recommendations meant to improve the future of voluntary sector-government relations across Canada. Elson Statement Revised diagrams and flow charts help to explain difficult topics such as the operation of the pari passu, first in, first out, and rolling charge methods of allocating funds between contributors and the circumstances in which strangers can be held personally liable as dishonest accessories to or knowing recipients of trust property in breach of trust.
The authors take a modern and conceptual approach to the wide array of topics covered in undergraduate equity and trusts modules, helping students explore the many ways trusts impact on everyday life and in the world of finance and commerce.
The text is accessible without compromising detailed critical comment, and engages with key issues such as the protection of privacy, enforcing informal promises, trusts and the family home, and assessing public interest in charities.
Extensive rewriting has enabled the incorporation of substantial new material without an increase in the overall length of the book. Carefully written with the student in mind, the text provides an accessible, yet intellectually stimulating, introduction to the subject. Sarah Wilson excels at writing in a clear and enthusiastic way, enlightening the more complex issues of trusts law without undue simplifications. The book is structured to reflect the content of a typical LLB course, and offers in-depth coverage of trusts law.
Students are encouraged to critically engage with the material through real-life examples, key scholarship and current contextual and theoretical perspectives, including related commercial settings.
Rigorously revised every two years, this book can be relied upon as one of the most up-to-date trusts texts available. Despite its declared charitable aims, it is clear that the Trust was set up as a tax avoidance scheme by people known to be in the business of tax avoidance. The Trust does not meet the public expectations of a charity and it is unacceptable that the Commission has not been able to put a stop to this abuse of charitable status.
The Commission began to investigate the Trust in March following concerns raised about its governance and fundraising.
This investigation closed in March The Commission eventually concluded that it could not de-register the Trust as it was "legally structured as a charity", despite not being for exclusively charitable purposes. The Commission has not yet brought forward proposals to change the law to exclude organisations like the Cup Trust from the register. In the last 25 years, the Committee and the NAO have repeatedly found severe shortcomings in the Commission's performance, particularly in relation to investigation and enforcement.
The Commission hardly makes use of its statutory powers, nor is it targeting its available resources to best effect. The NAO has concluded that the Commission does not do enough to identify and tackle abuse of charitable status.
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In response to budget cuts, the Commission has reviewed how it works and successfully reduced demand for its services, but it has not identified what budget it would need to regulate effectively. The Commission makes little use of its enforcement powers, for example suspending only two trustees and removing none in And it can be slow to act when investigating regulatory concerns.
The NAO found cases where periods of several months passed during which the Commission took no action.
Furthermore, the Charity Commission does not take tough enough action in some of the most serious regulatory cases. It is also reactive rather than proactive, making insufficient use of the information it holds to identify risk. The Charity Commission needs to think radically about alternative ways of meeting its objectives with constrained resources.
It also needs to make greater use of its statutory powers in line with its objective of maintaining confidence in the sector; and develop an approach to identify and deal with those few trustees who deliberately abuse charitable status.
Modernising Charity Law examines how the UK jurisdictions have enacted significant statutory reforms after many years of debate, whilst the federations of Canada and Australia seem merely to have intentions of reform. New Zealand and Singapore have begun their own reform journeys. This highly insightful book brings together perspectives from academics,regulators and practitioners from across the common law jurisdictions.
The expert contributors consider the array of reforms to charity law and assess their relative successes. Particular attention is given to the controversial issues of expanded heads of charity, public benefit, religion, competition with business, government participation and regulation.
The book concludes by challenging the very notion of charity as a foundation for societies which, faced by an array of global threats and the rising tide of human rights, must now also embrace the expanding notions of social capital, social entrepreneurism and civil society This original and highly topical work will be a valuable resource for academics, regulators and legal practitioners as well as advanced and postgraduate students in law and public policy. Specialists in charity law, comparative law, and law and public policy should also not be without this important book.
However, the law has not kept abreast with its development.
The European Court of Justice has extended certain freedoms of the EC Treaty to non-profit organisations, and more case law is expected to follow in the near future, but the observations, theories, solutions and legal and non-legal rules in this field are manifold.
The chances of harmonising the law on a European level are slim.
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Despite these differences, a common core of international corporate governance problems and regulatory solutions can be seen. This volume of essays brings together a variety of international experts from both corporate governance and governance of non-profit organisations to compare the two areas and explore the lessons that can be learned regarding comparative corporate governance for non-profit organisations.