Charities Act 2006

The Charities Act 2006 aims to support a dynamic and vibrant sector, ensuring that it continues to enjoy high levels of public confidence.  

The charity law and regulation aims to:

  • enable charities to administer themselves more efficiently and be more effective
  • improve the regulation of charity fundraising, and reduce regulation on the sector, especially for smaller charities
  • provide a clear definition of charity with an emphasis on public benefit
  • modernise the Charity Commission's functions and powers as regulator, increase its accountability, and preserve its independence from Ministers.

Public charitable collections 

The Act provides for a new system for licensing charitable collections in public. It applies to all such collections, including face-to-face fundraising, involving requests for direct debits. 

There is a new role for the Charity Commission in checking whether charities and other organisations are fit and proper to carry out public collections.  The Charity Commission will be responsible for issuing public collections certificates, which will be valid for up to five years.  This new procedure will mean that local authorities no longer need to assess the suitability of individual applicants and will ensure a more uniform approach to such assessment nationally.  However, this does have resource implications for the Charity Commission.  Public consultation on the regulations and guidance is anticipated.   

Collections in public places 

Once a charity has a public collections certificate it will be able to apply to a local authority for a permit to hold collections at certain times in certain places in that local authority area.  The local authority will assess the applications to ensure that collections do not clash and the public are not annoyed by excessive collection activity, known as collection fatigue. 

Door to door collections  

Previous legislation referred to ‘house to house’ collections. The Act refers instead to ‘door to door’ collections, to make clear that this includes business premises. 

A charity with a public collections certificate will be able to conduct door to door collections without permission from a local authority, but it must inform the local authority that the collection is taking place. 

Local, short-term collections  

The Act introduces a new concept of ‘local, short-term collections’.  Collections falling within this category will be exempt from licensing and will not require either a certificate or permit, but organisers will be required to notify the local authority that the collection is taking place. 

Find out more

Further information about the new licensing regime for charitable collections will be provided on these pages once details become known.

You can also find information for charities on the Charity Commission website at the Charity Commission website.

Make an application

One of the reasons that charitable collections are regulated is to ensure that the public is not annoyed by excessive fundraising. If there are too many collections taking place ‘collection fatigue’ can set in, people stop donating and the collections become less effective for the charities.

To ensure that members of the public are not overwhelmed by collection requests a policy has been adopted which controls the allocation of collection dates. Under the Council’s booking policy:

  • The Borough has been divided into a number of collection zones (eg Brentwood High Street, Ingatestone, Shenfield).
  • Not more than one charity street collection is permitted in any zone at any one time.
  • A charitable cause may only benefit from a charity street collection in any given zone on one Saturday in any calendar year.
  • A maximum of six collections will normally be authorised for a particular charitable cause in any one year.
  • The booking restrictions do not apply to the 'Lighting Up Brentwood' Christmas event. For this special occasion, several charities are permitted to collect in the High Street at the same time but each is given a designated pitch.

The Council has adopted a ‘first come, first served’ procedure for the allocation of charity street collection dates in order to ensure that all charities, whether large or small, have equal access to popular collection dates.

Organisers must obtain permission from the Council before a charitable collection, or sale of goods for a charitable purpose, takes place in a public place.  A licence is also required for charitable appeals made door-to-door, unless an Exemption Order issued by the government is already in place that covers the activity.

Enquiries are also made to check that a reasonable percentage of the money raised will be used for the charitable purpose stated. There are limits on expenses that can be deducted and collectors are not allowed to receive payment.

The conduct of street collections is controlled by the Council's Street Collection Regulations. Breaches of the regulations can mean that charities are excluded from holding future collections in the town and, in serious cases, may result in prosecution.

There is no charge for a street collection permit or a house-to-house collection licence.  If you would like to apply for permission to hold a charitable collection, please apply online below.

Apply to hold a house to house collection

Apply to hold a street collection

Applications must be submitted at least one month before the date of the proposed collection.

Telephone 01277 312500 or email licensing@brentwood.gov.uk

Identify if a charity collection is genuine

Does that collector look official? Are they wearing a sash, tabard or badge? Are they carrying a tin with the logo of a well-known charity?

The promoters of all charity collections conducted in a public place or house-to-house are required to obtain permission before carrying out the collection. This includes collections outside supermarkets but not when they are actually held inside the store.

Before permission is given, checks are carried out to make sure that money raised will be going to a genuine charitable purpose, that any deductions from the proceeds for expenses will not be excessive and the organiser of the collection is a suitable person.

Unfortunately, not every collection is genuine. Charitable collections can raise large sums of money that can be attractive to less scrupulous individuals. In some cases, unauthorised collections may be undertaken on behalf of genuine charities when the organiser believes that the Council would not grant permission (eg because collectors are paid or too small a percentage of the proceeds would be used for the charitable purpose).

There are a number of clothing collections carried out door-to-door.  Some of these are organised directly by the charity and the clothes are sold in their charity shops.  Some charities have contracts with professional fund-raising companies who carry out the collection and sell the goods (often abroad) with an agreed percentage of the revenue being passed to the charity.  Both types of collection are regulated.

There are also companies who organise collection and sale of goods on a commercial basis - these are not charity collections and are not vetted by the Council.  Complaints about these company collections should be directed to Essex County Council Trading Standards or Essex Police, as appropriate.

The Council’s Licensing Officers investigate incidents relating to unauthorised collections and legal proceedings are taken against those responsible in appropriate cases.

If you wish to check whether a street or house-to-house collection has been authorised by the Council, please contact the Licensing Section of Environmental Health Services. Either telephone 01277 312500 or email licensing@brentwood.gov.uk.

Face to face fundraising

Public fundraising by personal solicitation of committed gifts, often known as face-to-face fundraising, generates pledges of over £200 million per annum for good causes by giving people the opportunity to give a small, regular donation by direct debit.  Charity fundraisers consider it to be a convenient, tax efficient and cost effective method for both the donor and the charity.

The legal position

Although charity street collections are regulated under the Police, Factories, etc (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1916, current legal advice is that face-to-face fundraising falls outside these provisions as no money changes hands when the direct debit forms are signed.  The government has recognised the need for this form of fundraising to be regulated and included provisions within the Charities Act 2006. 

In the interim, face-to-face fundraising is subject to voluntary self-regulation by the industry.  The Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA) regulates the use of face-to-face fundraising by member charities and professional fundraising organisations and aims to work with local authorities to ensure that fundraising sites are used appropriately. 

Self regulation

The Council has entered into a Site Management Agreement with the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA).  This is a voluntary agreement which seeks to address some of the issues relating to public fundraising by personal solicitation of committed gifts, often known as face-to-face fundraising.

The aim of the Site Management Agreement is to facilitate face-to-face fundraising in a given location and provide a balance between the right of the charity to fundraise and the right of the public to go about their business without inconvenience. 

If you wish to check whether a particular organisation should be carrying out fundraising activity in the street, please contact the Licensing Section on 01277 312500.

Any complaints about breaches of the Site Management Agreement can be made in the first instance to the Licensing Section.  Please phone 01277 312500 or email licensing@brentwood.gov.uk.