Tag Archives: The Charity Commission

Commission Receives Annual £5m Interim Funding Boost

The Charity Commission publishes update on current and future funding model

The Charity Commission

The Charity Commission

The Charity Commission has been awarded funding from the Government of £5 million per year to help it respond to significant increases in demand on its core regulatory functions, including registration and compliance.

This funding has been awarded as a interim solution, while the Commission considers longer term, more sustainable funding models.

This includes the regulator consulting on whether the largest charities should make a modest contribution to the Commission’s enabling work, aimed at helping over half a million trustees across England and Wales manage their charities effectively and efficiently. The Commission now plans to launch a formal consultation later in the year.

Tracey Crouch MP, Minister for Sport and Civil Society, says

The Charity Commission does vital work regulating this vibrant sector and ensuring the public can support charities with confidence.

I am delighted that this funding will mean the Commission can meet the increasing demands for its services and help charities continue to improve lives up and down the country. It is important that the sector continues to innovate, and this includes the Commission considering a range of funding models for the future.

William Shawcross, Chairman of the Charity Commission, says:

I am pleased that the additional transitional funding from Government acknowledges the unprecedented rise in demand on the Commission’s services in recent years. The new money will help us continue to increase the effectiveness of our core regulatory functions in the short term, as we explore this longer term solutions.

It is right that we consider whether those in the sector with the broadest shoulders should make a contribution towards aspects of our work, and I am pleased that we will shortly be publishing a consultation on whether and how we do this. We would plan to use these funds to increase and improve the services and support we offer and want to encourage charities to step forward and feed in their thoughts.

The Commission is now working on detailed proposals, including whether to charge large charities. It expects to launch a consultation that will ask for charities’ views on:

  • The practicalities and implications of a system for charging the largest charities. The details are under consideration by the Commission, but it expects to consult on proposals that would see it receiving around £7.5million a year through contributions from the 2,000 largest charities on the register, namely those with annual incomes of over £5million.
  • The enabling work charities and trustees would like to see the Commission expanding or developing. The Commission will be keen to hear from charities of all sizes and types about their current and future needs for support and enabling work from the Commission. This element of the consultation is likely to focus in particular on smaller charities. Recent research revealed that 80% of trustees are responsible for charities that do not have paid staff; they consequently look to the Commission for authoritative advice and guidance on managing their charities effectively and efficiently.

Duke Of Cambridge To Speak At Charity Commission Annual Public Meeting

His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge will address the event on 23 January 2018

The Charity Commission

The Charity Commission

The Charity Commission can announce that its annual public meeting will take place on 23 January 2018. His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge will speak at the event at the Royal Institution in London.

The meeting will be chaired by William Shawcross, Chairman of the Commission, who will open the meeting before inviting His Royal Highness to deliver the keynote speech.

Attendees will also hear from the regulator’s new Chief Executive, Helen Stephenson, about the Commission’s work over the last year and plans for the coming months. This will be followed by an opportunity for attendees to ask questions of Helen and the executive team.

The meeting will take place during the morning at the Royal Institution and is an important part of the Commission’s commitment to public accountability and transparency.

Spaces for the meeting are very limited. To register your interest in attending please email publicmeetings@charitycommission.gsi.gov.uk including your name and the organisation that you are a representative of. Confirmation of a place, along with the exact timings, will follow via email. Attendees will also be required to bring photo ID.

New Charity Investigation: Hope House School Limited

The Charity Commission has opened a new statutory inquiry into Hope House School Limited

The Charity Commission

The Charity Commission

The Charity Commission, the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, has opened a new statutory inquiry into Hope House School Limited, registered charity number 1121132. The investigation was opened on 9 October 2017.

The charity’s objects are to advance the education of children who suffer from neurological and psychological conditions such as Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome, autistic spectrum disorders, Asperger’s syndrome and Dyspraxia.

The Commission conducted a books and records inspection following an anonymous complaint which raised concerns about the charity’s governance and administration.

The visit raised a number of regulatory concerns and the Commission has therefore opened a statutory inquiry to examine the governance, management and administration of the charity. The inquiry will focus particularly on whether:

  • the trustees have exercised sufficient oversight and control of the charity
  • the financial controls of the charity are adequate and its funds have been properly expended solely in furtherance of its charitable objects
  • potential conflicts of interest and connected party transactions have been properly managed
  • there has been any unauthorised trustee benefit

The Commission has also exercised temporary and protective powers to restrict the transactions that the charity can enter into to ensure that any funds expended are only in furtherance of the charity’s objects and closely monitored.

The Commission stresses that opening an inquiry is not in itself a finding of wrongdoing. The purpose of an inquiry is to examine issues in detail and investigate and establish the facts so that the regulator can ascertain whether there has been misconduct or mismanagement; establish the extent of the risk to the charity’s property, beneficiaries or work; and decide what action needs to be taken to resolve the serious concerns, if necessary using its investigative, protective and remedial powers to do so.

It is the Commission’s usual policy, after it has concluded an inquiry, to publish a report detailing what issues the inquiry looked at, what actions were undertaken as part of the inquiry and what the outcomes were. Reports of previous inquiries by the Commission are available on GOV.UK.

The charity’s details can be viewed on the Commission’s online charity search tool.

Ends.

Commission Listens To Charities In Making Changes To The Annual Return For 2018

The charity regulator publishes a report of its consultation on the content of the charity annual return for 2018

The Charity Commission

The Charity Commission

The Charity Commission has made a number of amendments to the content of the annual return for 2018 (AR18), after an extensive consultation with charities throughout the autumn.

It says the new annual return will make for an easier user experience for charities, and stresses that it will be more proportionate than in the past, with many charities required to answer fewer questions, and only those with large or complex operations being required to provide more information. On average, charities completing the annual return will answer 15 fewer questions than in the past.

In a consultation report published today, the regulator also says it is grateful for the positive and constructive engagement it has had with charities and that it has taken into account charities’ responses in making a number of key changes to the proposed content.

For example, the regulator is amending a proposed new question on income received from overseas. Only information about income from overseas governments or quasi-governmental bodies, charities and NGOs will be mandatory for the first year. This is information that relevant charities should already record and hold. Providing information about income from other overseas institutions and donors will be voluntary for the AR18 and then mandatory in following years. The Commission will also introduce a threshold for this information. These changes will ensure that charities can update their records and systems before the question areas become compulsory.

The Commission has also decided not to ask charities:

  • whether they are claiming rate relief for the premises they use
  • the amount of gift aid they have claimed (charities are already required to declare whether they are registered for gift aid, and the Commission will ask charities to provide their HMRC number)

The Commission says it requires these two pieces of information for regulatory purposes, but accepts that they may be available from other sources, and that it should pursue other options before adding to the reporting burden for charities.

Proposed new questions on executive pay in charities will be included in the annual return: AR18 will ask charities to provide information about the total remuneration received by their staff members, including salary, bonuses, pension contributions, private health care and other benefits in kind. The Commission will make public how many individuals receive total packages worth upwards of £60,000 in bands (in bands of £10,000 up to £150,000, then in bands of £50,000). The Commission will also require charities to provide information about their highest paid employee, but that information will be held for regulatory purposes, rather than made public.

David Holdsworth, Deputy CEO and Registrar at the Charity Commission, says:

The annual return is a vital tool in promoting charities’ accountability to the public, donors and beneficiaries as well as ensuring we have the information we need to be an effective, proportionate, risk-led regulator. I am grateful to the charities that took part in our extensive consultation on the content of AR18. Today’s report shows that we have listened carefully to charities’ submissions and have made important changes as a result.

However, in some important areas, including around executive pay, we will require charities to provide us with more detailed information. We know the public care deeply about transparency in this area, and it is vital that charities, and the Commission as regulator, respond constructively to these expectations. I am confident our decision in this area strikes the right balance between transparency and protecting the personal data of individual staff members in charities.

The Commission engaged in a wide-ranging consultation on AR18, including through targeted user testing. It identified groups of charities most likely to be affected by proposed changes and asked individuals responsible for completing the annual return to test the prototype digital service. The Commission says that it received largely positive feedback about testers’ experience.

The Commission has also published the formal regulations underpinning the AR18.

The Commission is currently developing the digital service that will underpin AR18, and hopes to make the return available to charities within the next four months.

The annual return must be completed by charities with annual incomes of upwards of £10,000. AR18 applies to charities with financial years ending from 1 January 2018. Charities have ten months from the end of their financial year to complete the return.

Individual Disqualified As Trustee For 4 Years After Failure To Evidence How Charity Funds Were Used

Charity Commission reports on its investigation into Deen Team

The Charity Commission

The Charity Commission

The charity watchdog has today published a report of its statutory inquiry into Deen Team – this sets out the regulatory action it has taken including that it has disqualified an individual from being a trustee for 4 years.

The Commission opened an inquiry into Deen Team in June 2016. The charity had previously been identified for a proactive visit, in 2014, as it was a newly registered charity operating in Syria, a high-risk area. Following that visit the Commission had a number of concerns about the charity regarding poor governance and financial controls and issued the trustees with regulatory advice and guidance. The Commission attempted to re-engage with the trustees in 2015, but following poor cooperation from the trustees it subsequently opened an inquiry to investigate these further.

Throughout the inquiry the Commission attempted to obtain evidence from the trustees to show how the charity’s funds had been applied. The trustees were unable to provide complete records and therefore failed to meet their legal duty to account for how they had used all the charity’s funds.

The inquiry also found that:

  • the individual disqualified by the Commission had paid themselves £2,000 from the charity’s funds and was unable to provide records to support their claim that this was to cover charity fundraising and administration costs
  • all decision-making was deferred to the disqualified individual; two other individuals who became trustees after the Commission initially engaged with the charity were unaware of their legal duties
  • a former trustee of the charity continued to use a property that the charity rented at a nominal rate of £1 for their own purposes without the consent of the charity’s trustees. The charity’s existing trustees did not appreciate and acknowledge the asset’s value to the charity and failed to protect it from the conduct of the former trustee

Throughout the inquiry, the disqualified individual failed to comply and cooperate with the Commission or to respond to a number of legal directions and orders made by the Commission.

As a result of the misconduct and/or mismanagement identified in the inquiry, the Commission has used its power under section 181A of the Charities Act 2011 to disqualify the individual from being a charity trustee or holding a senior management position within a charity for four years. Further details can be found in the report.

The Commission has removed the charity from the register as based on information provided by the trustees and obtained during the inquiry it considers that the charity has ceased to operate.

Michelle Russell, Director of Investigations, Monitoring and Enforcement at the Charity Commission said:

Trustees are collectively responsible for how their charity is run and all trustees should be aware of their basic duties and take them seriously. Trustees can delegate certain responsibilities to staff members or individual trustees but they must always retain sufficient oversight and not allow one person to effectively take over control of the charity. Having multiple trustees is essential so that trustees can challenge each other and hold each other to account where necessary, ensuring that decisions are made only in the best interests of the charity.

Charity trustees must keep detailed accounting records to allow them to show exactly how they have used their charity’s money, and how what they have spent it on furthers the charity’s purposes. This is essential to charities being accountable and transparent to donors, the public and the regulator. In this case, the trustees of Deen Team were not able to do this and we have therefore exercised our regulatory powers.

The Commission’s full report of its inquiry into Deen Team is available on GOV.UK.

Ends

PR 82/17

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