The Public Fundraising Regulatory Association, the self-regulatory body for all types of face-to-face fundraising, has submitted evidence to Lord Hodgson’s review of the Charities Act 2006 (CA06).
The PFRA submission includes five key recommendations. The government should:
- Commence those sections of Part 3 of CA06 that would have introduced a unified licensing system for street collections of Direct Debits and cash – this part of the act was never commenced.
- Amend Part 3 to allow local authorities to grant permits for doorstep charity collections – if implemented as it currently stands, Part 3 would have effectively deregulated all types of doorstep collections by removing the requirement for a licence.
- Work with councils and the fundraising sector to determine what factors would constitute “undue inconvenience” – under Part 3, “undue inconvenience” due to time, location or frequency would be the only grounds for a council to refuse a licence application.
- Repeal the Police, Factories etc (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1916 – this is the act that requires charities to obtain a council licence for cash collections but does not cover Direct Debit collections.
- Encourage local authorities to work in partnership with the PFRA to co-regulate face-to-face fundraising in their areas.
The PFRA contends that these recommendations would establish a “genuinely unified” public collections regime that would:
- empower local authorities to issue permits for public collections and
- oblige them to issue permits to bona fide applicants unless certain conditions are met.
One of the key recommendations in this context is bringing doorstep collections within the licensing regime. PFRA’s head of policy Dr Toby Ganley, who drew up the submission, says: “The House to House Collections Act 1939 requires a charities to obtain a licence or hold and exemption certificate if they want to conduct doorstep charitable collections for money, goods or Direct Debits, but CA06 would have removed this requirement completely, effectively deregulating doorstep fundraising. The 1939 act does not provide councils with sensible tools to regulate doorstep fundraising , so we propose ‘extending the logic’ of Part 3 of the act to doorstep fundraising. This would enable the same balance between facilitating sufficient fundraising opportunities while limiting undue inconvenience that we have established on the high street many times to be applied to all types of doorstep fundraising.”
Under PFRA’s recommendations, councils would be obliged to issue doorstep collections licences for cash, goods, Direct Debits, lottery sales, or any other type of collection, unless the collection would cause “undue inconvenience…by reason of the day, time, frequency or location of the proposed collection”.
Councils would operate in partnership with a self-regulatory body to establish capacity and allocations for these doorstep collections, in a similar manner to the way in which they now can work with the PFRA to run diaries for street collections.
However, councils should no longer have the power, as they currently do under the House to House Collections Act 1939, to refuse a licence because they do not think a big enough return will be made to the charity.
“It is the business of the charity, its staff and trustees, to make decisions about what is or is not an adequate return, not the business of local authority officials,” Dr Ganley says.