I may be wrong but I caught on the breeze a possible fresh wind of change with Orlando Fraser's first speech as the new chair of the Charity Commission for England and Wales. He said "there are other occasions when problems are innocent or not material, when [the Commission has] to remember that we are mostly dealing with volunteers trying overall to do great things, and we can be more benign". So, rather than criticise an otherwise successful charity excessively for honest and reasonable mistakes, I will be keen for the Commission to focus on supporting trustees in getting it right, when things don’t go exactly to plan - as they often don’t."
Anyone who gets the updates from the Commission will be more than aware of the constant stream of new inquiries that it launches - may be, just maybe, the tide is changing and the Commission will be focussing again (remember those days?!) on support and less on intervention, we shall see.
Fraser then went on to say "The third and final Commission value I will place great store by is independence. By this I mean that we must act without fear or favour from any other entity, whether it be Government, party politicians, beneficiaries or indeed the sector."
He could have added the press to that list. Anyone registering charities on a regular basis will be well aware of how the issues raised on registration alter according to the latest headlines in the papers or discussion in Parliament, whether it is safeguarding, fear of extremism in a faith context, a concern over ground breaking work in a high risk country abroad etc. However, a Commission that does not bend and flow to the pressure from Parliament and the media, will be a strong and much more effective regulator.
I can only say that I look forward to seeing if Fraser's aspirations permeate throughout the work of the Commission, especially "I promise that the Commission will keep increasing its efforts to improve the service we provide to trustees" - good bye 27 week waiting time for applications? - watch this space!