The Charity Commission is urging charities with a 31 January deadline for accounts and annual returns to file on time and file online.
Charities have ten months from the end of their financial year to submit their annual documents. Around 54,000 charities have a financial year end of 31 March, meaning their accounts and annual returns are due at the end of this month.
The commission is urging charities not to send in hard copy accounts, instead to file online. This is the quickest and easiest way to submit accounts and it enables a charity’s profile to be updated overnight. The 20-minute process is set out in a video tutorial produced by the commission in easy to follow steps. The regulator also has guidance available on its website.
In addition, charities can now authorise their accountant or other adviser to submit accounts on the trustees’ behalf.
Failure to submit annual documents when required to the commission is a criminal offence and the regulator says that it amounts to mismanagement and/or misconduct in the administration of a charity and is often linked with poor governance issues.
Charities who fail to file their annual documents for two or more years face a statutory inquiry by the commission. There is an ongoing class inquiry (see endnote 1) into charities that are in default of their statutory obligations to meet reporting requirements.
Charities are regularly reminded by the commission of their legal responsibilities. With the 31 January deadline fast approaching, the regulator is urging charities to submit their information now.
Neville Brownlee, Chief Operating Officer at the commission said:
There is no excuse for charities to be late when they have 10 months to prepare and are reminded at regular intervals by us. It’s a good idea to file when you’re ready, rather than leave it until the last minute.
Those charities that do file late are letting down the majority of those who file on time and take full financial accountability towards the public, donors and their supporters. It’s a shame that the minority risk their reputations and let down the many who follow their legal duties and responsibilities with care, at a critical time when the public expects full transparency on how charities spend their money. We know that 96 per cent of people say it is important to them that charities provide the public with information about how they spend their money,(see endnote 2) and that’s the bottom line.
It’s also a criminal offence not to file on time and late submissions will raise serious concerns with us. Trustees should be making absolutely sure that their organisation is remaining accountable to the public.
Jo Keaney, Corporate Director of Finance at charity Victim Support, says:
Submitting accounts on time helps individual charities, such as Victim Support, and the sector maintain transparency. Our supporters and the wider public deserve to know how we put money to good use.
All charities should meet the deadline as this will help maintain the professionalism and reputation of the not-for-profit sector and so we can all help provide better services.
Join the Charity Commission’s Twitter Q & A on Monday 26 January, 2-3pm, which will address questions about the annual information charities must submit, and help users who are having problems. Tweet your questions in advance or on the day to @ChtyCommission, using #fileontime.
To find out if the charity you support has submitted its annual information to the Charity Commission on time, go to www.gov.uk/charity-commission.
Notes to editors
- Charities with late information can be found on the online register by using the ‘Advanced Search’. You can conduct your own search by following these steps:
- from the commission home page, select ‘Find charities - search the charity register’
- select ‘Advanced Search’ from the grey menu on the left
- select ‘charities with latest documents overdue’
- select if you wish to look at charities in a particular geographical area, or by income size or by activity
- if you wish to search for charities within a particular postcode, you can use the additional search function available on the left hand menu ‘Search by charity contact postcode’
The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales.
- 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
- A class inquiry is a Statutory Inquiry into more than one charity
- Ipsos Mori research carried out by the Commission in June 2014 – Public trust and confidence in charities