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Scots charities slam English fundraising regulator

This news post is about 8 years old

​Remarks made by new Fundraising Regulator are out of touch

Charity leaders have slammed the new Fundraising Regulator for being out of touch with Scottish politics and undermining Scotland’s own fundraising consultation.

Theresa Shearer, chair of the Scottish Fundraising Working Group, said she was both shocked and bemused at comments made by Stephen Dunsmore, interim chief executive of the Fundraising Regulato,r who said the new body should have a UK-wide responsibility.

He referred to the consultation paper published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) in February, which recommended that the soon to be abolished Fundraising Standards Board should not be replaced in Scotland and that responsibility for fundraising should instead sit with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator and charities themselves.

Dunmore, who visited Scotland earlier in the year to observe the review's progress, described the paper as "slanted in one direction". He said: "We’ll have to see what the outcome is. There’s a lot of politics involved."

There is no easy legal or Parliamentary route to a single authority - Martin Sime

The comments were made alongside the interim regulator saying it was for Scotland to decide how fundraising regulation should work.

Shearer said Dunsmore showed a “lack of understanding of the true meaning of political devolution to Scotland and a lack of interest in seeing genuine consultation deliver solutions.”

In a letter addressed to the regulator, she said: “My experience, and that of my colleagues from the Scottish Fundraising Working Group and SCVO, of your visit to Scotland was that of an interested and respectful observer.

“Obviously, your stated preference was for UK-wide fundraising regulator but your assertion was that it was for Scotland to decide how fundraising regulation should work in Scotland.

“As to the alleged role of politics in the decision making, I believe you highlighted in your speech at SCVO’s Gathering event in Glasgow the lack of a political hand guiding our work on fundraising regulation in Scotland.

“As to the consultation being slanted, the extensive consultation on regulatory options underway in Scotland, with both the sector and public, only serves to highlight the lack of consultation with the sector, and particularly the public, in England and Wales subsequent to the Etherington Review.”

The new regulator will be funded by a levy on charities and will have an annual budget of £2.5 million.

This would come to about £1,250 per organisation if it was applied in the form of a levy across the approximately 2,000 charities that spend more than £100,000 a year on fundraising, which was how the Etherington review recommended the regulator be funded.

Martin Sime, chief executive of SCVO, said: “In practice it is simply not possible for UK ministers and the Cabinet Office to underpin self-regulation with statutory powers beyond the England and Wales scope of the Charity Commission.

“However much Dunsmore pines for a return to pre-devolutionary days, there is no easy legal or parliamentary route to a single authority.”

Martin Sime: decision lies with the Scottish third sector

Scots charities slam English fundraising regulator

As the interim chief officer of the Fundraising Regulator, Stephen Dunmore is en​titled to air his view that Scotland should be part of hisremit.

But he will have to do ratherbetter at standing up an argument about why that is in the best interests of fundraisingin Scotland if his position is going to win the day.

The arguments against are mostly substantial and practicalrather than political. The currentoptions review is open and led by the sector itself because that is whereresponsibility lies.

By contrast, theextent to which UK ministers are calling the shots over the regime whichStephen leads well-illustrates where politics really does interfere.

Charities in Scotland can’t fail to noticethe rather toxic environment in which their sisters in England have to operate. There seems little appetite to get sucked into that.

In practice it is simply not possible for UK ministers andthe Cabinet Office to underpin self-regulation with statutory powers beyond theEngland and Wales scope of the Charity Commission.

However much Stephen pines for a return topre-devolutionary days, there is no easy legal or parliamentary route to asingle authority.Given that the old regime, with its absence of ownership andboots on the ground in Scotland was largely invisible and irrelevant, it is nosurprise that our public consultation on these matters has shown considerableenthusiasm for a new system which emphasises the role of charities themselvesand which is established by the sector with supporting roles for OSCR and theScottish Government.

If legislation is required then that will bea matter for the Scottish Parliament.The central idea that (especially big) fundraisers don’twant the hassle of dealing with different systems is also a bitsuperficial.

International charitiesroutinely deal with such matters wherever they operate and not all areheadquartered in London Anyway, weheard these very same sentiments when charity law was first devolved and theworld has not come to an end.

Fifteen years of devolution has brought many of us to thepoint where we should respect and learn from such differences. What can the Charity Commission learn fromOSCR and vice versa? Why do more Scotsdonate to Charity? How can we allmaintain public trust and confidence and create a positive environment in whichcharity can flourish?

It seems unlikely that the best answer to any of these questions involves pitching our lot in with Stephen’s new outfit. A lack of ownership of what was being done in themselves want to take responsibility for ensuring that fundraising is conducted to the highest possible standards.

That, Stephen, is how it should be.



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paul causton
almost 8 years ago
is it really about the english? or are you just being silly? it is the organisation, not the english at the source of the problem, grow up and be a journalist...
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over 6 years ago
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