Charity Commission Updates: ‘The Essential Trustee’

Charity Statutory Levy Review

The Charity Commission has recently updated their trustee guidelines to be more precise. ‘The Essential Trustee’ is a detailed document for trustees in England and Wales, outlining the key duties that all trustees must carry out, as well as the tools and skills needed to perform effectively as a trustee. The aim of the new guidance is to help assist trustees further with their legal obligations. The new guidance is said to be shorter, concise and clearer than the previous versions of the guidance.
In November 2014, major concerns were raised by a number of charity bodies about the choice of language and tone used in the preliminary redraft of the guidelines. The text had been cut down dramatically to 31 pages (from 41) and completely omitted what is good practice and what is a legal requirement. As a result, the commission has now updated the document as follows:

Change in Language
A major amendment between the new and old guidance can be seen in the change of language used. The updated version is simpler and easier to understand, words and phrases that were misinterpreted in the previous edition have been revised E.g. ‘Must’ is used where there is an obligation and ‘Should’ where there is a suggestion. The clarification in language is to help prevent charities from breaking the law or breaching their legal duties. It also helps charities understand and implement a best practice strategy.

Alongside the change in language, the updated guidance provides a clearer layout with less text (a reduction from 41 pages to 39), but more than the preliminary. The latest update is easier to navigate with relevant links, where necessary, to other guidance. The update also includes a section, which includes the difference between what is a good practice and what is a legal requirement. Chairman of the Charity Commission, William Shawcross, stated: ‘We want trustees to feel confident in knowing what their duties are and empowered to carry them out. I hope this new clearer guidance will help them do just that. I encourage all trustees to read it, all prospective trustees to read it and for the charity sector itself to join us in promoting this as far and as wide as possible, because it is in all our interests that trustees understand their roles better.’
The guidance was updated on the 10th July 2015 and can be found at:
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