, type = Non-ministerial government department , seal = , seal_caption = , logo = Charity Commission for England and Wales logo.svg , logo_caption = , formed = , preceding1 = , dissolved = , jurisdiction =
England and Wales England and Wales () is one of the three legal jurisdictions of the United Kingdom. It covers the constituent countries England and Wales and was formed by the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542. The substantive law of the jurisdiction is En ...
, headquarters = Petty France, London , region_code = GB , coordinates = , employees = 420 , budget = £22.9 million (2016–2017) , minister1_name =
Michelle Donelan Michelle Emma May Elizabeth Donelan (born 8 April 1984) is a British politician who has served as Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport since September 2022. She previously served as Minister of State for Higher and Further E ...
, minister1_pfo = , chief1_name
Orlando Fraser QC
, chief1_position = Chair , chief2_name
Helen Stephenson CBE
, chief2_position = Chief Executive , chief3_name = , chief3_position = , chief4_name = , chief4_position = , chief5_name = , chief5_position = , chief6_name = , chief6_position = , chief7_name = , chief7_position = , chief8_name = , chief8_position = , chief9_name = , chief9_position = , parent_department = , parent_agency = , child1_agency = , keydocument1
Register of Charities
, website = , map = , map_caption = , footnotes = , agency_type = , agency_name = Charity Commission for England and Wales
cy, Comisiwn Elusennau Cymru a Lloegr , nativename = , nativename_a = , nativename_r = , logo_width = 190px , seal_width = , picture = , picture_width = , picture_caption = , superseding = , map_width = The Charity Commission for England and Wales is a non-ministerial department of His Majesty's Government that regulates registered charities in
England and Wales England and Wales () is one of the three legal jurisdictions of the United Kingdom. It covers the constituent countries England and Wales and was formed by the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542. The substantive law of the jurisdiction is En ...
and maintains the Central Register of Charities. Since the 2000s, governance of charities in the United Kingdom has been devolved; operating in other parts of the country are the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (since 2003) and the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland (since 2008). The Charities Act 2006 requires the Commission to be operationally independent from ministerial influence or control. Members of the commission, including the chair, are appointed by the
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport The secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, also referred to as the culture secretary, is a secretary of state in the Government of the United Kingdom, with overall responsibility for strategy and policy across the Department ...
. Orlando Fraser, was appointed as Chair of the Charity Commission by the Secretary of State on a three year term commencing from 25th April 2022. This appointment was not without controversy, including the refusal of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee to endorse the appointment Orland Fraser succeeds interim chair, Ian Karet, who succeeded Baroness Stowell of Beeston. The commission has four sites in
London London is the capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom, with a population of just under 9 million. It stands on the River Thames in south-east England at the head of a estuary dow ...
Taunton Taunton () is the county town of Somerset, England, with a 2011 population of 69,570. Its thousand-year history includes a 10th-century monastic foundation, Taunton Castle, which later became a priory. The Normans built a castle owned by the ...
Liverpool Liverpool is a City status in the United Kingdom, city and metropolitan borough in Merseyside, England. With a population of in 2019, it is the List of English districts by population, 10th largest English district by population and its E ...
and Newport. Its website lists the latest accounts submitted by charities in England and Wales. To March 2019, the Commission regulated £79 billion of charity income.

Exempt, excepted, and other non-registered charities

Some charities are not subject to regulation by or registration with the Charity Commission, because they are already regulated by another body, and are known as exempt charities. Most exempt charities are listed in Schedule 3 to the Charities Act 2011, but some charities are made exempt by other acts. However exempt charities must still comply with charity law and may approach the Charity Commission for advice. Some charities are 'excepted' from charity registration. This means they do not have to register or submit annual returns, but are in all other respects subject to regulation by the Charity Commission. A charity is excepted if its income is £100,000 or less and it is in one of the following groups: churches and chapels belonging to certain Christian denominations; charities that provide premises for some types of schools; Scout and Guide groups; and charitable service funds of the armed forces. In addition, if a charity's income is below the normal threshold for registration (£5,000), then it is not required to be registered with the Charity Commission. Nevertheless, it remains subject to regulation by the Charity Commission in all other respects.

Charities operating across other national borders within the United Kingdom

Registration of a charity in
England and Wales England and Wales () is one of the three legal jurisdictions of the United Kingdom. It covers the constituent countries England and Wales and was formed by the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542. The substantive law of the jurisdiction is En ...
does not endow that status elsewhere, thus further registration has to be made before operating in Scotland or Northern Ireland. Charities in
Scotland Scotland (, ) is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of Great Britain, mainland Scotland has a border with England to the southeast and is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to ...
are regulated by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator. In
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label=Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots, Norlin Airlann) is a part of the United Kingdom, situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, that is #Descriptions, variously described as ...
the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland was established in 2009 to replace earlier regulation by the Voluntary and Community Unit of the Department for Social Development, part of the Northern Ireland Executive.

Regulatory action

The commission carries out general monitoring of charities as part of its regular casework. It also has powers set out in the Charities Acts to conduct statutory investigations. However, opening a full statutory inquiry into a charity has a detrimental effect on the relationship with the regulator and can frustrate the intention to achieve a positive outcome. The commission, therefore, began around 2007 to carry out an intermediate form of action described as regulatory compliance investigations. In 2010 it opened over 140 of these cases, compared to just three full statutory investigations. However, the legality of these actions was debatable as they lacked a statutory basis. A high-profile example was the commission's report into The Atlantic Bridge, after which that body was dissolved in September 2011. The commission announced in October 2011, in the context of cost-cutting and a re-focussing of its activities, that it would no longer carry out regulatory compliance investigations. In 2012, the Commission refused to grant charitable status to Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, stating that it was unclear whether the body's aims were compatible with the requirement for charities to have a public benefit. The Commission stated that this was called into doubt as a result of the "exclusivity" of the body. The decision was discussed at a session of the Public Accounts Committee, during which MP Charlie Elphicke accused the Commission of being "committed to the suppression of religion". The decision was later reversed by the Commission. Between 2018-19, the Commission removed 4812 charities from the register and concluded 2473 regulatory compliance cases.


Prior to the 1840s, a body of Commissioners had been established by the ''Statue of Charitable Uses 1601'', but these proved ineffective. The Charity Commission was first established by the Charitable Trusts Act 1853. There had been several attempts at reforming charities before that which had been opposed by various interest groups including the church, the courts, the companies, and the universities. The power of the commission was strengthened by amendments to the act in 1855, 1860, and 1862. The Charity Commission was substantially reconstituted by the Charities Act 1960, which replaced the Charitable Trusts Acts (1853-1891). This introduced new duties to determine charitable status, and to maintain a public register of charities. The Charities Act 2006 established its current structure and name. the commission had 288 employees and 19 agency staff in post. In 2021, ''
The Guardian ''The Guardian'' is a British daily newspaper. It was founded in 1821 as ''The Manchester Guardian'', and changed its name in 1959. Along with its sister papers '' The Observer'' and '' The Guardian Weekly'', ''The Guardian'' is part of the ...
'' reported that Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden "had instructed officials to ensure candidates for the Charity Commission chair role were “tested” on how they would use the watchdog’s powers to rebalance charities by “refocusing” them on their founding missions", in response to what he described as "a worrying trend in some charities that appear to have been hijacked by a vocal minority seeking to burnish their woke credentials."

Charity tax law

The Finance Act 2010 extended charitable tax benefits (for example Gift Aid) to charities within EU member states, Norway and Iceland, rather than those just inside the UK.


The commission was criticised after the Aberfan disaster in 1966 for its intransigence and decisions on what it allowed money from the disaster fund to be spent on. It sanctioned the use of £150,000 to remove remaining spoil tips from the area after the National Coal Board refused to pay for the work. It also proposed asking parents ‘exactly how close were you to your child?’; those found not to have been close to their children would not be compensated.

Chairs of the commission

;Chief Charity Commissioner Prior to restructuring in 2006, the equivalent of chair was the Chief Charity Commissioner. * Rt Hon Peter Erle (1853- ) * William Vesey-FitzGerald (1875- ) * Sir
Henry Longley Charles Thomas Longley (28 July 1794 – 27 October 1868) was a bishop in the Church of England. He served as Bishop of Ripon, Bishop of Durham, Archbishop of York and Archbishop of Canterbury from 1862 until his death. Life He was born at Ro ...
(–1900) * Charles Henry Alderson (5 March 1900–?) * Richard Fries (1992-1999) * John Stoker (1999–2004) *
Geraldine Peacock Geraldine Peacock was the first chair of the Charity Commission. Career Geraldine was appointed Chief Charity Commissioner and the Charity Commission's first Chair-designate in 2004, with the remit of making the Commission 'fit for purpose' to im ...
(2004–2006), latterly acting Chair ;Chair of the Charity Commission From 2006 the role of Chief Charity Commissioner was replaced with those of Chair and Chief Executive of the Charity Commission *
Dame Suzi Leather Dame Susan Catherine Leather, DBE, DL (born 5 April 1956), known as Suzi Leather, was chair of the Charity Commission from 1 August 2006
(1 August 2006 – 31 July 2012) * William Shawcross (1 August 2012 – 23 February 2018) * Baroness Stowell of Beeston (24 February 2018 – 23 February 2021) * Ian Karet (24 February 2021 – 25 April 2022) - ''interim, term initially until 27 December 2021, extended until 26 June 2022.'' * Orlando Fraser (25 April 2022 -) - appointed for a three-year term, thought he was rejected by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee pver concerns about the selection process.

See also

* GuideStar – UK and US databases and information on charities * Intelligent Giving – independent guide to UK charities


External links

Official website
{{Authority control 2007 establishments in England 2007 establishments in Wales Charity regulators Government bodies based in London Non-ministerial departments of the Government of the United Kingdom Organisations based in the City of Westminster Organizations established in 2007 Regulators of England Regulators of Wales