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Variations across the UK

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National flag of Scotland   National flag of Wales   National flag of England


Map of UK (England and Wales in dark red)
Map of the UK
England and Wales in dark red

Britain consists of England, Wales and Scotland.

The UK is Britain plus Northern Ireland (NI).

Variation - The law, government institutions and other organisations vary somewhat according to where you are in the UK :

Variation and the 1939 Act - The focus of CharityBags is charitable house-to-house collections.  These are controlled by the House-to-House Collections Act 1939 :

Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man - We've not attempted to cover the situation in these areas.

Scotland - We've not attempted to cover the situation in this area either.


We've designed the site to cover the situation in England (excluding Greater London).  This means it applies (without provisos) to around 70% of the UK population.

If you live in Greater London, see the section on London below for the slight differences which apply in your area.


Where an organisation doesn't cover all the UK, there are usually similar, sister bodies which operate in the remaining areas, carrying out similar functions.

For example the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) is the Scottish equivalent of the Charity Commission for England and Wales.

UK home nations flag (courtesy wikimedia.org Creative Commons: Setanta747)
Flag of UK home nations

Variations across England

See the Government page for more details on central and local government.

The variations across England are minor, mainly affecting the split of responsibilities within local government.  CharityBags is mainly concerned with three functions :

To explain the differences, we've divided England into three types of area :

  1. Shire counties (= two tiers of local government)
  2. Unitary authorities (= one tier of local government)
  3. Greater London

With each of these areas, we explain below the current arrangements regarding licensing, trading standards and the police.

1. Shire counties

Examples: Devon, Durham, Essex, Kent, North Yorkshire, Shropshire

In these areas there are two main tiers (levels) of local government :

Typically there are five or so districts/boroughs in each county.

Licensing department:  Normally part of the district/borough council.

Trading standards department:  Normally part of the county council.

Police:  Usually consists of a county-wide police service eg Kent Constabulary.
In a few cases the police service covers two (or even three) counties - eg Devon and Cornwall Police.

2. Unitary councils

These consist of :

In these areas there is only one tier of local government - the district/borough councils.

The licensing department and trading standards department are both part of the same council.

Police:  Usually consists of a county-wide police service - eg Greater Manchester Police.

3. Greater London

Blue lamp - Metropolitan Police (London)
Blue lamp - Metropolitan Police (London)

There are two tiers of government :


Trading standards:  Responsibility of the London boroughs


Note - Parish and town councils form the third tier of local government - the lowest tier.  However, these councils have no powers in respect of charitable collections.

Who licenses charitable house-to-house collections?

Greater London:  London is unique - the police are the licensing authority.

The rest of England:  Originally the police were responsible for licensing collections.  However, since 1974 the local district councils have been the licensing authorities for charitable collections.

See the House to House Collections Act 1939 (as amended) for details of this.

See also the 'Government - local' section of the List of organisations and resources page.