About the public benefit consultation

As you may know, the Charity Commission has a statutory obligation to issue guidance on public benefit.

Charity trustees are required to have regard to our guidance when exercising any powers or duties to which the guidance is relevant.

In January 2008, we published general guidance on public benefit, Charities and Public Benefit. In December 2008, we followed this up with some supplementary guidance for charities that prevent or relieve poverty, or advance education or religion. We also published guidance on Public Benefit and Fee-charging.

We have always said that we would keep our public benefit guidance under review. There are a number of reasons why we are doing this now.

We have had experience of seeing our public benefit guidance in action. Although we have had some positive feedback on it, a common response is that many trustees find the guidance in its current form too much to read and not easy to find those parts of the guidance that are relevant. Developments with our website have given us the opportunity to explore new ways to present our public benefit guidance in a way that makes it shorter, easier to navigate and more suited to being read online.

We wish to make our public benefit guidance more accessible and make it easier for charity trustees to understand what is a very complex area of charity law. We hope that our new style guidance will aid trustees when making decisions that affect their charity’s public benefit or when reporting on public benefit.

Also, since publishing our guidance, new legislation (such as the Equality Act) has been implemented and recent decisions of the Tribunal and Upper Tribunal have clarified certain aspects of charity law. These have implications for our public benefit guidance and we have taken them into account in our revisions.

You can find out more about how our guidance has changed in ‘Key features of the revised guidance

We would like to hear your views on any aspect of this consultation but you can find out more about some of the things we would especially like feedback on in ‘Consultation questions’

This consultation has been designed to comply with the seven consultation criteria in the ‘Government Code of Practice on Consultation’

If you have any queries about this consultation, you can contact us by email or phone: