UK charity watchdog chairwoman says it needs 'stronger' powers

Baroness Stowell is due to step down as Charity Commission head after three years

KJMRYF LONDON, UK - NOVEMBER 17TH 2017: The homepage of the official website for the Charity Commission for England and Wales, on 17th November 2017.
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The departing chairwoman of the UK's charity watchdog says its powers need to be strengthened.

The Charity Commission was recently criticised after its investigation into anti-Semitism at Islamic Relief concluded it was "satisfied" with measures taken by the aid group.

But the charity's independent report said it still had connections to people who were “subject of concern for alleged personal social media posts or associations outside of IR".

Baroness Stowell is due to step down as chair of the Charity Commission after three years in the role.

During an online seminar, hosted by the Social Market Foundation, she said she had "no regrets" from her time in the role but has called on the government to strengthen the powers available to the watchdog.

"At the moment I think that the power we have and the ability we have to remove charities from the register could be strengthened, could be improved," Ms Stowell said.

“I think I would like to see a situation where the way in which the regulations exist do not encourage more bureaucracy but actually make it possible for us to take the right action when something goes wrong.”

She told the seminar that she would like to be have been "more vocal" during her tenure.

Ms Stowell's appointment to the role was unusual in that the digital, media, culture and sport select committee voted against it because of her lack of charity experience.

"There was absolutely no way I was going to back down from that," she said.

"I have never had any regrets at sticking with it and doing the job I have done. I was grateful to have the opportunity."

The Charity Commission has more than 168,000 aid groups on its register and 700,000 trustees.