In July, we reported that the Department of Health had published a Review of its Arms Length Bodies (ALBs). Because it was established through an Act of Parliament that conferred to Government some limited powers over its governance (e.g. the appointment of trustees), the AERC has always been classed as an ALB.
The Review stated that the AERC’s status as an ALB was to be abolished. Since then, we have been working with Department to identify the most appropriate way of making this happen. We reached the conclusion that the best solution would be for the AERC to use its powers to set up a new charity that is entirely independent of Government. All of the AERC’s functions, including its endowment fund, staff, grant programmes and its future plans and strategies would then move to the new charity. In September, the AERC’s trustees voted unanimously in favour of this option. Once the transfer has been completed, the Secretary of State for Health can use existing powers to wind up the AERC.
To all intents and purposes you will not notice any difference, other than a new name. You will also see the continued implementation of our exciting plans for growth, including a more ambitious research programme to inform some of the key questions on alcohol policy; this is something that we were already embarking on, regardless of the Department’s Review.
We are very excited by these developments. We believe that the creation of a new, independent charity will bring considerable benefits and open up significant new opportunities for both the organisation and our stakeholders. We expect the new charity and the transfer of functions to be completed early in the new year. We will keep you posted on progress and plan to have a “re-launch” to make sure everyone understands the change.