Falling foul of public benefit test

24th July 2009 at 01:00

It is totally wrong to say the Charity Commission has assessed the five independent charitable schools "solely on how many means-tested bursaries they provide" ("Independent schools' fears comes true as first two fail charity test", July 17).

We have been absolutely clear in our guidance that we will take into consideration all the benefits a charity provides that are related to its aims. Our guidance gives many examples of benefits schools might provide as well as examples for other charities which charge high fees.

The commission is not making the law, as claimed by the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference. The Charities Act gives us responsibilities as the independent regulator, and the principles in our guidance are firmly based on existing case law. We always act in an impartial, evidence-based manner, as we have done in assessing the public benefit of charities. We're not trying to stop organisations from being charities; we are trying to make sure every charity is, and operates for, the public benefit.

Andrew Hind, Chief executive, Charity Commission.

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