Letter: Power of charities to be monitored

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The Independent Online
Sir: You comment in your editorial ("A tighter rein for voluntary bodies", 5 May), apropos the difficulties being experienced by the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations that "the Charity Commission has powers of supervision but often seems unable to head off problems".

Contrary to the impression you give we are in fact conducting an investigation into the situation in the NCPTA. The Charities Act 1993 has given the Charity Commission powers to take the sort of preventive action your leader rightly invites. Its monitoring provisions, which are this year coming into effect, require charities with an annual income or expenditure of more than pounds 10,000 to send the commission their accounts and report of activities annually. The commission is committed to monitoring the way in which charities use their powers and resources precisely in order to enable us to anticipate problems where possible and to use our powers of intervention to put things right where, despite monitoring, difficulties have arisen.

As you elegantly put it, charities occupy "public space" and must be both independent and accountable. It is the Charity Commission's task to uphold the independence of charities while making them properly accountable. We now have the power - and resolution - to achieve that.

R J FRIES

Chief Charity Commissioner

Charity Commission

London SW1

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