TORFAEN council revoked the collection licence granted to a Newport second-hand clothes collection agency after it donated just £12.50 to charity from a collection worth more than £250.

Torfaen council licensing panel, made up of councillors Raymond Mills, Phil Seabourne and Maria Graham, yesterday reviewed collection licences issued to Newport-based Audosta, which allows them to collect secondhand clothes from houses within Torfaen.

Concerns were raised following the company’s seven day collection in April after £12.50 was given to the charity that they were collecting on behalf of – Cancer Research and Genetics UK – out of a collection worth £267.45.

Torfaen licensing officers believed that this was not an appropriate amount that would be seen as reasonable by those donating to the collection on the understanding that the proceeds were going to charity.

During the hearing, Cllr Mills questioned Brian Cooper of SIS Global, a consultancy service acting on behalf of Audosta, about whether he thought Torfaen residents would be happy with a £12.50 return out of a collection worth £267.

Mr Cooper replied: “Companies have their overheads too. Every single operator has a cost.

“The cost risk of a collection is borne by the company and not by the charity.”

He explained that from April’s collection, Audosta had lost money as residents put out a small number of bags.

Audosta specified that money raised would be given to the charity minus their expenses.

The company promises charities £50 per tonne of goods collected, and in April a quarter of a tonne was collected, therefore £12.50 was given to the charity.

He added: “We all want more money to go to charity, but without such operations the charities would get nothing.”

The panel decided to revoke the Torfaen licences issued to the company for collections planned in June, August and October.

Mr Cooper welcomed the decision as the company is no longer working with the charity.

Complaints had been made to the Charity Commission

A SPOKESWOMAN for the Charity Commission said the commission had received complaints relating to Audosta Limited and unauthorised collections on behalf of registered charities which raised regulatory concerns.

She added: “I can confirm that we were specifically aware of concerns about the relationship between Cancer Research and Genetics UK and Audosta Limited before their contract came to an end this year.

“As the regulator of charities, the commission expects charity trustees to consider very carefully any contracts that the charity enters into to ensure that these are in the best interests of the charity.”

Policy manager at the Fundraising Standards Board, Sam Wilson, said: “Commercial partnerships with household collection companies can enable charities to raise significant amounts for the good causes they represent.

“But, the onus lies with charities to ensure that they negotiate the best possible deal at the outset and, over and above all else, to ensure that the public has a clear understanding of about how much of the money raised will go to the charity.”