The relevant sections of Part 3 (ss45-66) of the Charities Act 2006, which cover public charitable collections and introduces a unified licensing regime for cash and Direct Debit collections, was due to be enacted during 2010. We expected that the General Election would delay the implementation of Part 3 and, the Office for Civil Society is still considering the options.
Whenever Part 3 of the Charities Act 2006 does come into force, it will affect the licensing of public charitable collections, including F2F, in the following ways:
- Face to face fundraising
- Public Collection Certificates and local authority permits (licences)
- Refusal of permits (licences)
- Exemptions for ‘short-term’ and ‘local’ street collections
- Local authority licensing powers in London
- Arrangements for door-to-door collections
During 2009 the Office of the Third Sector (now the Office for Civil Society) engaged Modena Consulting to consult on guidance for the enabling regulations for these provisions.
The Charities Act 2006 Act makes it clear that a licence is required for a collection of “money or other property” (s45.2). Any charity wishing to undertake F2F street fundraising will need to obtain a local authority licence – called ‘permit’ in the act (s58).
The Act introduces the notion of Public Collection Certificates (ss51-57). A charity must have obtained a PCC from the Charity Commission in order to conduct a public charitable collection. Local authorities cannot issue a collection permit (ss58-59) to charities that do not have a PCC.
PFRA’s interpretation of these measures:
This will mean that it is the Charity Commission that is responsible for determining a charity’s bona fides rather than a local authority, which currently has these powers under the Police, Factories etc (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1916. Various burdensome and time-consuming tasks such as verifying collectors’ IDs, enforcing non-payment of cash collectors, and scrutinizing accountants’ returns will be removed from the powers and duties of licensing authorities.
The only ground that a local authority would have for refusing to grant a permit (s60) is that it would cause ‘undue inconvenience’ to the public because there is another collection already happening in the same ‘locality’ or there had been a collection the day before or will be one the day after. The powers that councils did have under the Police, Factories etc (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1916 will therefore be transferred to the Charity Commission.
PFRA’s interpretation of these measures:
Section 60 therefore effectively introduces the ‘48-hour rule’ – that the maximum interval a licensing authority can place between episodes of collecting activity in any specific ‘locality’ is 48 hours. Following the implementation of the Act, licensing authorities will, it appears, be obliged to permit collecting activities at the very least once every 48 hours if those applications meet the other relevant conditions.
PFRA also believes that the use of the words ‘undue’ inconvenience is key. ‘Undue’ implies there is a level of inconvenience that is ‘due’– i.e. tolerable and expected on a public high street. It is only when this inconvenience becomes undue that there are grounds to consider a refusal for a permit.
‘Short term’ and ‘local’ collections will be exempt (s50) from a requirement to hold a PCC and a local authority permit.
Unlike the Police, Factories etc (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1916, the Charities Act 2006 transfers licensing responsibility from the police to London boroughs (s58.1).
Any charity wanting to engage in house-to-house collections will have to obtain a Public Collection Certificate from the Charity Commission. However, unlike street collections, charities will no longer need to apply for a permit from the council (as they currently do under the House-to-House Collections Act 1939). But they must notify the council of the date, time and place of the collection and provide the council with a copy of the PCC.
During 2009, the Office of the Third Sector (now the Office for Civil Society – OCS) commissioned research consultancy Modena to draft the regulations (s63) that will interpret and implement this part of the Act. These regulations will flesh out, among others, what is meant a ‘short term, local’ collection, how a ‘locality’ is defined (a locality will almost certainly not be the entire local authority area) and what constitutes ‘undue inconvenience’. Modena completed this report before the 2010 general election. It was always likely that the general election would delay implementation of Part 3, and the OCS is now considering the options regarding the public collections licensing regime.