Regulations, which cover door to door clothing collections, are due to change in order to stop textile theft and collectors falsely posing as charities.
The Charities Act is under review with the regulation of these collections potentially due to change, taking the responsibility away from local authorities and the police (in the case of London) and more closely monitoring charities which collect textiles from householders.
Investigations are being carried out by the Office of the Third Sector to assess the implications of a move away from local authority registering. It is yet to be decided who will take over the role of registering charities wishing to carry out door to door collections.
Currently, if registered charities wish to operate door to door collections of textiles they must apply for a licence from the local authority they will be operating within or the police for those collecting in London. If the charity is working nationwide on regular occasions they are able to apply for a National Exemption Order from the Office of the Third Sector, which means they are still bound by the same regulations but do not have to apply for a licence from each borough they will be collecting from.
The technical report for Maximising reuse and recycling of UK clothing and textiles published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs says: One probable reason for this potential change of position is the occurrence of bogus collectors (organisations misrepresenting themselves, for example as charitable when they are not) and theft, which is causing a significant issue for registered collectors.
Collection by commercial, unregistered organisations is permissible, but such organisations often appear charitable and are thus regarded by charities as bogus collectors.
According to the report charities have lost around £3 million to bogus collectors each year.
Association of Charity Shops head of policy and public affairs David Moir said: One of the current problems is that those collectors, which are not charities, do not need to be licensed in any way, shape or form. This makes it incredibly difficult for these people to be policed.
Research carried out by the Association of Charity shops showed that a saturation of door to door collectors is putting homeowners off donating. Around 44 per cent of respondents believe they received more sacks between May 2008 and May 2009, annoying a third of them. This could be leading to donor fatigue, putting people off textile collection so some homeowners stop donating their clothes to charities completely.