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New ingredient

Adding 'public benefit' as a new ingredient to the charity law mix is proving a recipe for disaster, says Finola Moss

24 October 2011

The Charity Commission is a statutory non-ministerial regulatory body, charged with the administration of charities in accordance with existing law.

For any voluntary organisation, charitable status is not only a major fundraising necessity, but also results in no tax being levied on the organisation’s assets or income. Such organisations will usually cease to exist if they lose, or fail to prove their charitable status to the charity commission’s satisfaction. To do so, an organisation’s purpose must be charitable within the list of charitable purposes in the Charities Act 2006, and this purpose must be proven to benefit the public.

But, while the Act places a duty on the Charity Commission to publish guidance on how this public benefit requirement operates, it does not define what the requirement entails, other than to state it be interpreted, “as that term is understood for the purposes of the law relating to charities”.

Such an omission operationally...

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