PUBLIC SECT0R: NCVO bids to repeal 'archaic' charity laws

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations will launch a campaign next month urging the Government to repeal 'archaic' charity laws.

Overhaul is needed urgently to ensure public confidence in charities is maintained, according to the umbrella body for the sector.

The present system, whereby public schools are classed as charities, is too confusing for the public, according to PRO James Georgalakis.

He said: 'At the moment to be a registered charity you have to provide evidence to the Charity Commission that you provide a public benefit ... but there are exceptions to this. If you are involved with education, religion or relief of poverty that benefit is presumed. What message does it give to the public if places like Eton are considered charities?'

The campaign and a full list of charities who have joined the NCVO in a group called the Charities Bill Coalition, will be unveiled at the NCVO's annual conference on 12 February.

The campaign is specifically urging the Government to include a charities bill in this year's Queen's Speech.

Georgalakis said PA and media relations work would run from February to April, which the NCVO believes is the most effective time to attempt to convince Home Office officials and ministers that the bill is necessary.

The campaign is being led by head of campaigns Chris Stalker. Media relations activity will include the results of a survey of public attitudes to the charity sector. Previous NCVO surveys have found widespread confusion concerning public perception of charities, including a 'significant' percentage believing that The Body Shop is a charity, according to Georgalakis.

The NCVO also hopes fresh legislation would help to further clamp down on bogus charities.

Home Secretary David Blunkett has been confirmed as the keynote speaker at this year's NCVO conference.

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