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Charity Commission launches consultation on public benefit requirement

The Charity Commission has launched a consultation on its revised public benefit guidance. This will run for three months, and will give people involved in the sector the opportunity to comment on both the content of the guidance, and the new online format and layout. Respondents will be able to post responses and comments on a blog, allowing real time feedback and discussion as the consultation progresses.

The revised guidance sets out what all charity trustees need to know to ensure that they are running their charity for the public benefit. It explains that, in order for an organisation to be a charity, its purposes must fulfil two criteria: they must be purposes that are recognised as charitable in law, and they must be for the public benefit.

Charities must also demonstrate public benefit, by showing both who benefits from the charity’s purposes and what the benefits are.

The guidance covers a number of areas, including:
• what trustees need to know about the public benefit guidance, including explaining any technical terms
• what makes a charity - including understanding what “charitable purposes” are
• the public benefit requirement - who benefits from a charity's purposes and what the benefits are
• what people need to know when setting up a charity
• what trustees need to know when running a charity
• what trustees need to know when writing their Trustees' Annual Report

Explaining the need for the guidance, Dame Suzi Leather, Chair of the Charity Commission, said: “Public benefit is the defining characteristic of charity but is a far from simple concept. We have worked hard to write guidance that accurately reflects the law but is accessible for a charity trustee who just wants to know what to think about when making decisions that might affect their charity's public benefit.”

The new guidance will replace the existing public benefit guidance. The Commission’s supplementary guidance on charging fees, and on advancing religion, advancing education and relieving and preventing poverty will also be reviewed in the light of the consultation.



Date: 16th July, 2012
Author: Wendy Bambrick


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