The revised public benefit guidance

On 16 September 2013, the Charity Commission published its revised public benefit guidance for all charities. It is crucial that charities understand and have regard to the public benefit guidance throughout their existence, from formation to decision making to annual trustee accounting. The revised guidance aims to clarify the Charity Commission’s position on monitoring public benefit in charities and seeks to make public benefit requirements clearer.

The revised guidance was necessary following a decision in 2011 of the Upper Tribunal in a matter brought by the Independent Schools Council. That case raised questions regarding the decisions to be taken in considering what is for the public benefit and how a fee-charging charity may operate for the general public, particularly when some sections of the public are unable to afford its services. Sections of the 2008 guidance were then extracted or redacted and the Charity Commission commenced a review of its public benefit guidance in 2012. That review revealed further concerns from the third sector relating to the lengthy and complex nature of the existing 2008 guidance and the fact that it was hard to interpret, given that it was guidance, not statute, and that it erred in its interpretations in part…

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