More than £9bn a year is given by people who want to do good. Their confidence must be protected by rigorous monitoring of charities’ activities
The Charity Commission has launched a statutory inquiry into Oxfam as part of its duty to promote trust and public confidence in charities. That is necessary. But the Commission also has to reassure an increasingly sceptical audience that its own regulatory culture is rigorous and sceptical enough to deserve trust and confidence. Get this wrong, and public faith in the value of supporting charities – generosity worth nearly £10bn a year – is itself threatened.
The Commission accuses Oxfam of being less than open; but in the end, the inadequacy of the response to sexual exploitation by senior aid workers in Haiti must lie at the regulator’s door. In the light of its response, it is little surprise that in November parliament’s auditors, the NAO, found there was still work to be done, five years after an excoriating report revealed that the Commission was failing to use the powers it has to hold charities to account, or to tackle abuse effectively. Its new chair, the Tory peer Tina Stowell, will face some hard questions when she appears before MPs next week.