By Francesca James

Good causes could lose billions of pounds a year to fraud if cuts to the charity regulator go through, the Public and Commercial Services union is warning.

Already, charities lose an estimated GBP 1.3 billion a year because of fraud, according to the latest figures from the National Fraud Authority.

But government spending cuts mean the Charity Commission has already had to scrap most of its one-to-one work with charities, and is now facing cuts to its vital work advising charities and investigating wrongdoing.

Under the cuts, there will be just 280 staff - a reduction of almost half since 2005 - to regulate more than 300,000 UK charities.

This comes as the government continues to say it wants the voluntary sector to run more of our public services.

Members of the union will be attending the commission's annual public board meeting tomorrow (22) - at the Abbey Conference Centre, in Great Smith Street, London, from 3pm to 8pm - to highlight their concerns.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "Cuts to the Charity Commission are neither inevitable nor necessary, and will just heighten the risks of fraud and charities having to pay to receive expert advice and support.

"This means there will be less money for good causes, so not only will charities find it more difficult to stay afloat, the goodwill of the public will be undercut."