Headlines: November 1st, 2006



A wall of red tape is still putting people off voluntary and community work a year after a report first identified the problem, according to a claim today from the Chief Executives of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action and Community Matters and the National Federation for Community Organisations, who have all expressed concerns about the lack of action.

A year after the publication of the ‘Better Regulation for Civil Society’ report by Sir David Arculus the Chairman of the Better Regulation Task Force, the voluntary sector leaders are voicing dissatisfaction that very little has been done to implement the recommendations of the report, which called for significant changes in the regulation of the voluntary and community sector, including cutting the amount of work organisations have to do to satisfy local authorities and other funding bodies.

Key recommendations in last November’s report included the need for further work to be done to reduce the VAT burden for charities and to find ways to improve this situation. It also called on the Charity Commission to separate legally binding obligations on trustees from guidance on how they should fulfil their role and it urged a reduction in the administrative burdens arising from ‘quasi-regulation’ associated with contract funding.

Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive of NCVO, said that a year after the report the sector should be celebrating the changes and achievements that had taken place rather than waiting for the wheels to be set in motion. “While we accept that the Charity Commission has made progress on distinguishing between advice and regulation, a wall of red tape remains, which makes life difficult for charities and the individuals and communities they serve. We are urging Government to take action on these long overdue recommendations,” he added.

Kevin Curley, Chief Executive of NAVCA, said that across England people running local voluntary organisations were wasting time and money meeting unnecessary reporting requirements for some funders. As an example he pointed to Ryedale Voluntary Action, in North Yorkshire, which spent 15 per cent of its grant for community transport in order to satisfy the County Council’s audit demands. He added, “In Sussex, where Impact Initiative provides lots of services for disadvantaged people, the charity faced no less than eight separate audits by statutory funders in a six weeks period. The Government must implement the Task Force’s call for the reduction of this sort of nonsense.”