(Click for help) HEADINGS
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Geographical coverage - The law described on this page applies only to England (excluding London).
See the Variations across the UK page for information about the different arrangements in :
Our scope - The focus of CharityBags' efforts is on house-to-house collections, rather than street collections. However, the two types of collection are closely related. Therefore we've added two (brief) pages on street collections :
In practice it can be difficult to decide whether some clothing collection leaflets/bags are 'charitable' or not.
For details, see the page: A clothing collection: Does it need a collection licence?
House to House Collections Act 1939
Title page (Crown copyright HMSO)
The law regulating charitable collections is based on the House to House Collections Act 1939 and two related Regulations.
The Regulations give more detail on the procedures for controlling collections laid down in the Act.
For details, see :
The law covers collections of goods (property eg unwanted clothes, bedding, books, CDs, jewellery, furniture) as well as money.
To be legal, charitable house-to-house collections must be authorised. This means the collectors must have either :
If a charitable collection doesn't have a licence or exemption, it's illegal - and the collectors can be prosecuted by the local council and fined. For details, see :
Above, we've referred to :
However, some other regulatory organisations also have powers which can be used to deal with misleading collectors and collections (depending on the circumstances) :
For details, see the Regulators page.
Illegal clothing collection
- leaflet from 'Rutex Ltd'
With many areas of law (including collections) the general principles are straightforward. However, when you look at them more closely there are complications and technicalities (the 'small print'). For example :
On the Definitions page we deal with some of these complications in relation to charitable collections, for instance regarding the definitions of :
Also see the Myths and misunderstandings page.
Part III of this Act set out a proposed new regime for the licensing of collections covering both house-to-house and street collections. It was intended to supersede the 1916 and 1939 Acts (which cover street and house-to-house collections respectively), merging the two into one (simpler) unified, modernised system. Some of the wording is very similar to the 1939 Act.
However, Part III of the 1992 Act has never been brought into force, because concerns were raised about whether it would work in practice.
Until recently, If you looked at the Act on the Net, there was no obvious indication that Part III had not been brought into force - which was rather misleading. Indeed we know of one "authoritative" book on law which got it wrong - it had the collection provisions in Part III of the 1992 Act listed as now in force, and the 1939 Act listed as superseded.
See the page on Charity law reforms for details of :
See the List of organisations and resources page, except for the following :
The Law page
The Acts and Regulations page
Charitable house-to-house collections :
The Law on street collections page