Two local government umbrella organisations have recommended working with the PFRA to co-regulate street fundraising in their submissions to Lord Hodgson’s review of the Charities Act 2006.
In its submission, the Local Government Association (LGA) says that it has “committed to further work with the PFRA…to promote the voluntary agreement option to councils and increase awareness of the other key elements of self regulation, such as the code of conduct.”
The submission calls for “flexible powers” that would allow councils to be able to create the most “effective solutions for their local area”. It adds that these could include choosing not to regulate, implementing a voluntary agreement or “devolving management to a co-ordinating organisation like the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association”.
The LGA’s submission states that the organisation has a “high regard” for both the PFRA and the Fundraising Standards Board, and cites the joint agreement with Wolverhampton as the type of “partnership between councils and the charitable sector [that] is welcome”.
However, it also concedes that this arrangement might “not meet all the needs and concerns of all councils”. The LGA also raises the issue of whether the PFRA would have sufficient resources to cope with a sharp increase in council partnerships, and what would happen if a charity opted to remain outside the voluntary regime.
The submission to Lord Hodgson’s review from the Association of Town Centre Management (ATCM) calls for the relevant sections of part 3 of the Charities Act 2006 – which contained provisions for a unified licensing regime for cash and Direct Debits – to be enacted, as did the PFRA in its own submission.
Echoing the LGA, the ATCM further recommends, that councils should “have the power to delegate the management of face-to-face fundraising to the PFRA or other suitable body through a voluntary agreement”.
The ATCM submission says that fundraising has “broadly improved” where PFRA agreements have been put in place: “This has not completely stopped all complaints, but there is a greater level of satisfaction among our members.”
Dr Toby Ganley, PFRA’s head of policy, has welcomed the proposals in both submissions.
“We have enjoyed a mutually-rewarding professional relationship with the ATCM for some time and we are delighted their submission to Lord Hodgson’s review reflects the success of our partnerships with their members,” Dr Ganley says.
“We are also extremely delighted to have forged a good working relationship with the LGA in a short space of time. We are confident that with two such influential local government organisations supporting our model of self-regulation that we are on the right track to getting a regime that will strike the correct balance between the needs of charities and the wants of the public.”
Dr Ganley adds: “The LGA is right to raise resource issues and as an organisation we will need to ensure that we are capable of taking on the extra work that will come our way if and when significantly more LGA and ATCM members choose to work with us.
“This is something we have always been aware of and have been actively considering the extra resources we will need to do this for the past year. We are therefore totally confident that we will be able to absorb any extra work that comes our way.”