The consultation on the proposals for this service closed on 31 March, and comments were sought on a number of issues, including “The application of the FPS to smaller charities.”

Here at Minerva we work exclusively with small charities. We are only too aware of the pressures on small, often local charities which have few if any paid staff – and those who are salaried are paid for a year’s work roughly what the most highly remunerated charity chief executives receive in less than 2 months.

Small charities have had a hard time since the heady days of the Blair years. Those which were encouraged to expand on the basis of statutory grants and/or Service Level Agreements (SLAs) now find that they are in serious financial difficulties. What they don’t need is more regulation, more paperwork, greater administrative costs.

Some commentators have suggested rather dismissively that there are too many small charities and that these should merge. That’s fine, if that is what the small charities involved want and if such mergers do not reduce the support which local charities provide to a range of disabled and disadvantaged people.

The poor (and the disabled and disadvantaged), it was said many years ago, are always with us. That should not blunt our determination to eliminate poverty, nor should it cause us to neglect those who are contributing the most to that aim – the small, local charities all over the UK.

The FPS is to be welcomed and it will give people a greater control over what they do or do not wish to receive from charities. But let us remind ourselves that whilst large, national and international charities can well afford to help fund this, small local charities do not need yet another financial and administrative burden at this time.