COUNCILLORS have approved a new policy for house to house charity collections across the area.
Chichester District Council’s general licensing committee was told by officers on Wednesday that at present there was no policy in place.
A house to house collection licence enables the holder to undertake door to door collections of money, unwanted property such as clothing and the sale of goods where any part of the proceeds may go to charity.
Under the new policy, a stipulation that 70 per cent of proceeds must be given to charity was approved by members.
Cllr Adrian Moss said: “I think the 70 per cent is very good because I think we should be aiming for that.”
Cllr Kate O’Kelly agreed, saying: “I think 70 per cent sounds reasonable and sensible.”
The policy will also restrict the number of collections that can take place in any area on the same day (limited to one) and how many collections that any one organisation can undertake per calendar year (limited to two).
Officers said this would avoid areas of the district becoming saturated by regular and repeated collections.
The policy would apply only to local and smaller charities and not the 46 national, larger charities which still have to give notification of collections but do not need a licence as they are covered under a separate policy.
During 2018, the licensing authority for Chichester received complaints regarding alleged unlicensed collections taking place in the district.
While investigating these complaints, officers agreed adoption of a local policy would help control future collections.
Charities would, in future, be required to give evidence their collectors had undergone a criminal convictions record check.
Cllr Carol Purnell said one of the main advantages to the policy was to help protect residents.
She said: “I think this is eminently sensible and how many of us put stuff out when we get the bags through the door? We put it out, believing that the money is going to go charity and half of it, or very little of it, does.
“I think residents will welcome knowing that when someone has got a licence to collect that a good proportion of that goes to charity and not in someone’s pocket.”
Officers confirmed that a number of recent licensed collections had resulted in an extremely low percentage of the proceeds being given to charities.
In one case, it was proposed in an application to give only 15 per cent of the proceeds directly to the charity nominated by the applicant.
An authority can refuse or revoke a licence for a number of reasons, for example, if too high a proportion of proceeds is to be spent on expenses, if not enough takings are given to charity or if incorrect information was provided on the application form.
It was noted that the policy may result in a small number of promoters not being able to collect as frequently as they may previously have done in the Chichester district.
However, officers pointed out that other charities would naturally benefit as a result of a balanced policy enabling many charities to collect, where some had previously monopolised the district.
Some councillors then asked if there would be anything done about the use of plastic bags.
Cllr O’Kelly said: “We have adopted a policy to reduce plastic so I was just wondering how many of these licences are people dropping bags off and do we want to have a time limit where we say, actually we don’t want you to be dropping bags off but we don’t obviously want charities to stop collecting.
“But if there are alternatives and alternative materials, should we be promoting that and putting a time-scale on no more bags?”
Officers stated that the majority of collections were for clothing and therefore using bags.
It was suggested that the licensing officers linked up with the group working on the reduction of single-use plastics.
They would then be able to report back in around six to 12 months’ time with some suggestions to the general licensing committee.#