Press release

Inquiry opened into Augustine Housing Trust

Trustee decision-making under investigation.

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The Charity Commission, the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, has opened a statutory inquiry into Augustine Housing Trust (registered charity number 1100151).

The Commission raised concerns with the trustees of the charity regarding agreements entered into by the charity to occupy commercial premises, some of which have resulted or may result in the charity becoming liable for the payment of business rates. Additional concerns about the trustees’ failure to comply with their legal obligations to produce independently examined accounts were also raised. The trustees have failed to properly respond to the Commission’s concerns. As a result, the inquiry was opened on 12 March 2014 (see endnote 1).

The purpose of the inquiry is to examine regulatory concerns including whether the charity trustees have properly discharged their duties in furtherance of the charity’s purposes when making decisions to enter agreements related to the occupation of commercial premises and to ensure that they comply with their legal obligations in relation to the filing of accounts and annual returns.

Four charities are now under investigation by the regulator in connection to their business rates relief arrangements (see endnote 2).

The Commission has already issued alerts to charities warning them of the risks associated with business rates relief.

It is the Commission’s policy, after it has concluded the 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 its website.

You can view the charity’s details on the Register of Charities.

Ends

PR 41/14

For press enquiries contact the press office.

Notes to Editors

  1. The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales. See www.charitycommission.gov.uk for further information.
  2. Our mission is to be the independent registrar and 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
  3. Section 46 of the Charities Act 2011 gives the Charity Commission the power to institute inquiries. The opening of an inquiry gives the Commission access to a range of protective and remedial powers.
  4. The Commission’s decision to announce the opening of a statutory inquiry is based on whether it is in the public interest to do so and with consideration of our objective to increase public trust and confidence in charities. Read more information on the Commission’s policy and factors taken into account when deciding to issue a press release.

Endnotes

(1) An appeal against the Commission’s decision to open a statutory inquiry was lodged with the First-tier Tribunal by the charity on 19 May 2014.

(2) The three other charities currently under inquiry regarding their business rates relief arrangements are: Africa Relief Trust, registered number 1077946 (inquiry opened 12 July 2013), Public Safety Charitable Trust, registered number 1138450 (inquiry opened 21 May 2013) and Kenya Aid Programme, registered number 1137927 (inquiry opened on 20 April 2012).

Published 29 May 2014