ACEVO Chief Executive Sir Stephen Bubb has today written to Justice Minister Simon Hughes MP, urging Ministers not to place undue and unfair burdens on charities with reforms to Freedom of Information (FOI).
Sir Stephen was commenting on a statement made by the Justice Minister in the House last night, which said that the FOI code of practice would be changed to bring contractors with the public sector under freedom of information regulations.
While welcoming greater transparency in public service contracting Sir Stephen argued that charities operating in the public interest are already subjected to greater public scrutiny than private firms through the Charity Commission.
He sought assurances from the Minister that this must not be the start of a slippery slope towards piling another layer of bureaucracy on charities and social enterprises and that charities and social enterprises would be fully consulted in the event of any changes to the FOI code of practice.
Sir Stephen said:
“Charities and social enteprises are already regulated by the Charity Commission to ensure openness and transparency. Subjecting them to Freedom of Information red tape on top of everything else would raise prohibitive costs and shut out many important community organisations from delivering public services.
“Following the lobbying act charities already have an additional layer of regulation through the electoral commission. Now, in the course of regulating private firms, The Government must not add a triple-lock on the missions of charities and social enterprises.
“We have written to the Minister with our concerns. We will be seeking assurances that charities and social enterprises will not be subjected to additional bureaucracy and red tape.”
Click here to read Third Sector Magazine’s coverage of AECVO”s comments on the proposed changes to Freedom of Information rules.