Charity Commission issues revised public benefit guidance

On 16 September 2013, the Charity Commission published its revised public benefit guidance for all charities. The guidance was previously contained in a single document called ‘Charities and Public Benefit’ together with supplementary guidance on ‘Public Benefit and Fee-charging’. The Charity Commission withdrew parts of this guidance in December 2011, following the decision of the Upper Tribunal in the Independent Schools Council case concerning whether independent fee-charging schools provided a public benefit, entitling them to claim charitable status.

The new guidance is split into three short guides. This new version completely replaces all previous guidance (now officially withdrawn).

In order to be a registered charity, a charity must show its purposes are for the public benefit (as defined by the Charities Act 2011). This is a legal requirement. Understanding public benefit helps those setting up or running charities to know what it means to be a charity and to function as a charity should. It also helps charity trustees to describe and report on their charity’s work. To this end, the Charity Commission provides guidance as to how charities can show they provide public benefit, and this is the guidance they have recently updated. It is high-level general guidance that reflects the law on public benefit and charity trustees must ‘have regard’ to it when exercising any powers or duties to which the guidance is relevant…

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