The Charity Commission will continue to prioritise work aimed at protecting charities from abuse or mismanagement and enabling trustees to run their charity effectively.
Research into trust and confidence in the commission, published last week, revealed widespread support for the regulator’s renewed focus on tackling abuse and mismanagement, but suggested that charities expect the commission to continue to support the majority of well-meaning trustees to do their best.
The regulator’s strategic plan for 2015-18, published today, identifies 4 strategic aims:
- protecting charities from abuse or mismanagement
- enabling trustees to run their charities effectively
- encouraging greater transparency and accountability in charities
- operating as an efficient, expert regulator with sustainable funding
The plan sets out how the regulator will achieve these aims, including by:
- making better use of data so resources can be focused on higher risk issues
- preventing problems arising through more and better targeted guidance and outreach work
- improving the registration process and protecting the integrity of the register of charities, including more pre and post registration scrutiny and
- improving the efficiency of the commission’s business processes
The strategic plan makes clear that the commission will actively pursue alternative funding sources, including funding from charities. The commission is currently funded entirely by the taxpayer, and has seen its budget reduce by nearly half in real terms since 2007, to £22 million.
The commission’s annual report for 2014-15, also published today, shows the regulator has continued to strengthen its work to tackle serious abuse and mismanagement in charities. The commission opened 103 new investigations last year and used its enforcement powers 1,060 times - up from 64 and 790 in 2013-14 respectively. Actions taken during commission investigations in 2014-15 directly protected £44.6 million in charity assets - more than twice the value of the regulator’s annual budget.
The report explains what the commission has done in 2014-15 to strengthen and improve its approach to monitoring charities, including newly registered charities that have given rise to concern. The regulator concluded 393 monitoring cases in 2014-15 and carried out 137 compliance and inspection visits.
William Shawcross, Chairman of the Charity Commission, says:
Together, our annual report and strategic plan tell a clear story about the commission: we remain resolute in our mission, and are quickly improving the way in which we carry out our work. We have successfully strengthened our approach to dealing with cases of abuse and mismanagement. The figures show the extent of our success in protecting charity funds.
But the majority of trustees are well intentioned - we must continue to improve the guidance we provide them and raise their awareness of their duties.
Our annual report tells of a successful year for the commission - one in which we have received additional investment funding from the Treasury, secured a Bill to strengthen our powers and have received recognition from the National Audit Office for our programme of change. This would not have been possible without the continued commitment of our board and staff members, and I thank them all for their hard work.
Other key figures from the commission’s annual report include:
- 7,192 applications to the register
- 4,648 charity registration applications approved
- 2,129 serious incidents reported by charities
- 87% annual returns received within deadline
- 86% annual accounts received within deadline
- 55,131 emails assessed in First Contact
- 1,024 operational compliance cases opened
- 1,169 operational permissions cases opened
Research by Populus published last week revealed that the majority of the general public (72%) and a similar proportion of charities (75%) believe that charities are regulated effectively and that most charities (79%) and the public (81%) trust the commission to be fair and impartial when assessing charities.
Notes to editors
The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales.
- We are 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