New policy on collections

LICENSING chiefs have agreed a new policy to control the amount of money donated to good causes from house-to-house collections.

At the moment, collections regularly take place in Hartlepool but the level of donation from the collected goods can range from less than 10 per cent up to 90 per cent.

Anyone wanting to collect goods for charity needs a licence from Hartlepool Borough Council and councillors have agreed new powers to tighten their control over how much is donated.

The new policy means anyone carrying out house-to-house collections must donate a minimum of 75 per cent of the proceeds of the goods collected to the good cause.

Or alternatively, if they don’t then the collection bag or leaflet must clearly say what percentage is donated.

Proceeds is classed as the full value of the amount collected before any deductions for costs etc are taken into account.

Officers took a report to the licensing committee asking members if they wanted to adopt a policy to ensure the “best possible value” for residents and charities.

Collections involve plastic bags or leaflets being dropped through letter boxes asking people for donations of clothing and other items such as books and shoes.

In a report, Ian Harrison, the council’s principal licensing officer, said: “Residents are asked to leave bags of donations on their street or doorstep and these are then collected by professional collection companies and transported to regional centres where they are sorted and sold for a profit.

“The profit, or more usually a proportion of the profit, is then donated to the good cause or charity with the remainder being retained to cover collection costs.

“Donation levels vary from 10 per cent or less up to 90 per cent or more.

“While the often low levels of donation may seem unsatisfactory, the charity concerned may still see this as income that would not otherwise have been generated and therefore worthy of their continued support.”

He added that the potential value of collections has increased “significantly” and the council can receive two or more licence applications some weeks.

The council cannot charge for granting a house to house collection licence.

Meanwhile, charities that benefit from the council’s own recycling scheme could have their names printed on recycling leaflets advertising the kerbside collection scheme.

The council works with a firm called I&G Cohen, which give cash donations to the National Blind Children’s Society, Action for Children, Christian Hospital, and World Cancer Research Fund, from the sale of the collected materials.

Hartlepool Council receives £13.51 for every tonne of material collected and last year 15.36 tonnes of textiles were collected, which meant the local authority received £207.51.