Policy paper

Charity Commission Revised Regulatory Statement

Updated 9 January 2017

1. Our statutory objectives

The Charity Commission’s statutory objectives, functions, powers and duties are set out in the Charities Act 2011 as amended by the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016. Our regulatory approach is designed to meet our responsibilities under the law with excellence, given the resources at our disposal.

2. Our strategic priorities

We consider that we can best fulfil all our statutory objectives by concentrating on the following: promoting compliance by charity trustees with their legal obligations; enhancing transparency and the rigour with which we hold charities accountable; promoting the effective use of charitable resources by raising awareness, supporting trustees and enabling them to comply with their duties; and ensuring that only bodies that properly qualify as charities under the law are registered. We believe this is the best way to promote public trust and confidence in charities and thereby to encourage charitable giving and endeavour in all its forms.

3. Compliance and enforcement

We will not tolerate the misuse of any charity or its funds for unlawful or improper purposes. As a proactive regulator, we will be alert to the challenges facing the charity sector and will use our information effectively to identify risk and to pursue abuse of charity. We will warn trustees and act where there is any significant risk to public trust and confidence, and will be alert in particular to fraud and financial mismanagement, abuse of beneficiaries, and abuse of charity for terrorist purposes. We will take decisive action where necessary and be assertive in using our statutory powers in the most serious cases.

4. Accountability and transparency

We will promote public accountability and transparency by maintaining an accurate register of charities and by continuously improving the nature and quality of the data we make available to the public. We will continue to identify emerging risks, share our findings and publish our risk framework. We will also continue to publish reports on the outcomes of and lessons from significant cases. We will have robust processes to ensure that registered bodies properly operate as charities.

5. Promoting trusteeship, supporting trustees and ensuring the effective use of charitable resources

We will continue to promote trusteeship and the essential contribution of trustees and to support trustees, primarily through improving the advice and guidance we provide. We will review and streamline our core guidance and regulatory interventions including permissions and consents with a particular focus on:

  • governance

  • financial management

  • outcomes for beneficiaries

  • standards of good practice

6. Integrity of register

We will ensure the integrity of the register of charities. We make a formal assessment of all applications for registration on a case-by-case basis using our risk framework.

7. Efficient, objective and proportionate regulator

We will be an efficient, objective and proportionate regulator that seeks to deliver just and reasonable outcomes. We will act robustly whenever we have reasons to doubt the veracity of information provided to us, or where trustees are unreasonably slow or unwilling to respond to our concerns. Where genuine mistakes by trustees do not have serious consequences, we will work with those trustees to resolve matters and to get the charity in question back onto a secure footing.

8. Respecting independence

We will respect and protect charities’ independence. Under law, trustees must manage their own charities. So long as they act within the law and in accordance with the charity’s governing documents, trustees have broad discretion to act as they think fit. We expect all trustees to read, familiarise themselves with, and have regard to our guidance. The principles of good trusteeship for example are set out in some detail in our publication The Essential Trustee (CC3). Trustees are required to act exclusively in the best interests of their charity and comply with their duties to act responsibly and with reasonable care and skill. In making decisions, we consider that trustees should give due consideration to their charity’s public reputation.

9. Increasing reach and engagement

We will continue to improve the accessibility and reach of our information and services. We will embrace digital communication, introduce a digital portal dedicated to each charity, automate services where possible and improve our online content. We will continue to engage with trustees outside digital channels where they are not accessible to trustees.

10. Leadership and joint-working

We will promote sector-wide leadership and build stronger relationships with our external stakeholders. We will continue to work closely with other government departments, regulators and law enforcement agencies, sector bodies, and legal and accountancy professional bodies to ensure that the integrity of charity is not undermined. This will include keeping under review the legal and regulatory framework in which charities operate and the governance and other weaknesses highlighted by our risk assessments and our casework.