Council push to make 'chugging' illegal

Updated: 

Owen Humphreys/PA

'Chuggers' or charity muggers - the commonly used term for charity workers who approach people in the street to encourage them to regularly contribute to a cause - look set to be banned from more streets around the UK, and one council is attempting to make some collecting illegal.

A number of councils have moved to restrict fundraisers to certain areas of town at certain times of the day, but Newcastle City Council wants to go a step further, making certain collecting an offence punishable with a fine.

The Public Fundraising Regulatory Authority (PFRA), which regulates street collectors, has seen an increase in the number of the restrictions of almost 50 per cent over the last two years. It now has over 40 site agreements with councils across the UK including Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow.

In February this year, Burnley City Council imposed a ban on 'chuggers' and Glasgow City Council are one of the latest to get the new agreements in place, relegating charity collecting on specified days and areas in the city.


Dr Toby Ganley, PFRA's head of policy said: "It was fairly clear that there was a bit too much fundraising in central Glasgow. The new sites will take the pressure off the centre, while maintaining the balance between charities' duty to fundraise and the rights of the public not to be put under undue pressure to give."

Echoing the views of many other councils around the UK, Councillor Gordon Matheson, leader of Glasgow City Council, said: "The issue of street fundraisers is a source of annoyance to many shoppers and visitors to Glasgow. However we recognised that charities have the legal right to fundraise on our streets, but we must ensure that people working, living and visiting Glasgow are not inconvenienced by this practice."


A step further

Newcastle City Council however wants to go a step further and introduce a by-law making some collecting illegal. Nick Forbes, Chair of the Newcastle City Council cabinet, told the BBC that the move comes after multiple complaints from members of the public over aggressive behaviour from charity fundraisers, including being shouted abuse at.

Charities argue they rely on face-to-face fundraising - the PFRA estimates almost 20% of all regular charity donors are recruited on the street. Since the law requires a licence for people to collect money in the street, they get around this by asking for text donations or encouraging people to set up a direct debit.

So what is the problem with 'chuggers'?

While most street charity fundraisers are paid an hourly rate, they will often receive performance related commission on top - not always in the form of cash, but often vouchers or gig tickets for example.

There is a perception that this commission is what causes some of these collectors to use aggressive tactics to get passers-by to sign up.

Because these people are not volunteers, and are not recruited directly by the charity themselves, they often have no special interest in the cause they are representing - which makes you feel very much like you are being sold to, rather than enlightened by someone genuinely passionate about the charity. It can be an altogether uncomfortable experience.

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