The Charity Commission, the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, is setting out its plans for the annual return 2016 which all registered charities must complete. The information provided in the annual return is used by the commission in its regulatory work, and helps populate a charity’s details on the online charity search – an important tool for accountability to the public.
The content of the annual return for 2016 will remain broadly the same as the content of the annual return for 2015. The only changes will be to the financial information required of charities with an income of £500,000 and over, reflecting the changes needed as a result of the new SORP.
In 2014 the commission consulted on a number of possible new annual return questions for charities, including asking charities what they spend each year on campaigning. Following the consultation the commission decided that it would not include this question in the 2015 annual return, but would revisit whether or not to include it in 2016. Whilst recognising that there remains public interest in charities campaigning, the commission has taken account of the administrative burden that such an additional question would place on charities, and so will not include a question in the 2016 annual return on campaigning expenditure.
Sarah Atkinson, Director of Policy and Communications at the Charity Commission said;
We have listened to the views expressed about the administrative burden charities would face in detailing what they spend on campaigning. We always aim to strike the right balance in the annual return, ensuring it is manageable for charities whilst still collecting important information for our regulatory work, and for accountability to the public. We are working closely with users on the new format to make sure it is easy and intuitive for charities to use.
The new annual return is being developed with user testing throughout the process to ensure the new format is accessible and easy to use, and forms part of the commission’s ongoing Transform investment programme to improve how charities and trustees can access our services.
A test Beta version of the annual return is planned for release at the beginning of 2016 for people to trial and give feedback. Further improvements are planned to the annual return as part of the Transform programme.
Notes to Editors
The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, acting in the public’s interest, to ensure that:
- charities know what they have to do
- the public know what charities do
- charities are held to account