Our freedom of information publication scheme established in accordance with section 19 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Classes of information
2.1 Who we are and what we do
2.2 What we spend and how we spend it
2.3 What our priorities are and how we are doing
2.4 How we make decisions
2.5 Our policies and procedures
2.6 Lists and registers
2.7 The services we offer
Part 1: Introduction
This sets out the background and purpose of the scheme.
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI Act) became law on 30 November 2005. It gives a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities, sets out exemptions from that right and places a number of obligations on public authorities. A 'public authority' is defined in the FOI Act, and includes but is not restricted to central and local government, non-departmental public bodies, the police, the health service and schools, colleges and universities. Any person who makes a request to a public authority for information must be informed whether the public authority holds that information and, subject to exemptions, supplied with that information.
View the full FOI Act:
Individuals already have the right of access to information about themselves under the Data Protection Act 1998. As far as public authorities are concerned, the FOI Act will extend this right to allow public access to all types of information held.
We have adopted the model publication scheme approved by the Information Commissioner. It is valid from 1 January 2009.
The purpose of the scheme is to ensure a significant amount of information is available to the public, without the need for a specific request. Our intention is to publish as much information as possible on subjects in which there is known to be public interest. However, exemptions under the FOI Act and information published in pursuance of our legal obligation may prevent us from releasing some information.
The scheme will be regularly updated and its content monitored to make sure it is accurate.
Our publication scheme sets out:
- what information we publish or intend to publish as a matter of course
- how this information will be published
- whether the information will be available free of charge or on payment of a fee
The scheme is intended to provide guidance on finding information according to its type. Publication does not refer solely to printed material. Publication has been interpreted as broadly as possibly to include material on our website and other electronic documents.
Many publications are available on our website unless otherwise stated. If the information is available on the website, a link will direct you to the page you need.
If the information you're looking for isn't available via the Scheme and isn't on the website, you can still ask if we have it. All FOI requests for information not included in the Scheme must be made in writing through our contact us page. Please include as much detail as you can. We are obliged to reply within 20 working days of receipt. If however we are unable to do so, we will inform you of our reasons and work to provide a full reply as soon as we can.
Requests for information will be treated on a case-by-case basis; however some information may not be available because it falls within one of the exemptions of the Act. When that happens, we will tell you which exemption we consider applies. A full list of the exemptions can be found in the FOI Act.
Requests for personal data - information about a living individual - are dealt with under the Data Protection Act 1998. If you want to ask whether we hold any personal information about you, you should contact us. You are required to supply proof of your identity, which should include a scan of the identification pages of your current passport or of a current photo driving licence. You are also required to produce an original of a current utilities (e.g. electricity) bill, or credit card or bank statement, which includes your name and current address. This would be returned to you if required. It would also be helpful if you could indicate which part of the Charity Commission you believe might hold personal data on you to help narrow the search. There is currently no charge for this service.
Personal data about other people is usually exempt from disclosure if its release would break any of the data protection principles or would be likely to cause substantial damage or distress to another person.
The information is all free unless otherwise stated.
Electronic documents displayed in either HTML or PDF formats can be accessed and downloaded free of charge from our website. See:
If a request for a paper version of any publication that is available electronically means that we have to do a lot of photocopying or printing, or pay a large postage charge, we will let you know the cost before fulfilling your request. Any costs are payable in advance.
We are a Crown body and the information we produce is subject to Crown copyright, which is administered by the Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI). The material listed in this publication scheme is Crown copyright unless stated otherwise. The copyright in some of the material which may be found in this publication scheme has been waived, meaning you can reproduce this material freely.
Categories of material for which copyright has been waived include: government press notices, legislation and explanatory notes on the legislation, ministerial speeches, consultation documents, documents featured on official websites (except where expressly indicated otherwise), headline statistics and unpublished public records.
For other types of material, however, the supply of documents under freedom of information does not give the person or organisation who receives them an automatic right to reuse the documents in a way that would infringe copyright, for example, by making multiple copies, publishing and issuing copies to the public.
Brief extracts of any of the material included in this publication scheme may be reproduced under the fair dealing provisions of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (sections 29 and 30) for the purposes of research, private study, criticism, review and news reporting.
Details of the arrangements for reusing Crown copyright material can be found by contacting OPSI at:
Office of Public Sector Information (The National Archives)
Tel: 020 8876 3444
Authorisation to reuse copyright material not owned by the Crown should be sought from the copyright holders concerned. If in doubt, users should contact OPSI in the first instance.
We are not liable for the contents, reliability or availability of any external internet sites listed, nor do we necessarily endorse any views or services mentioned within them.
We have published the scheme because it is a requirement of section 19 of the FOI Act 2000. The purpose of the Act is to promote greater openness by public authorities. It is important therefore that the scheme meets your needs. If you have any comments regarding the structure or content of the scheme we would be pleased to receive them, clearly marked ‘publication scheme feedback’:
All comments received will be forwarded to the Information Commissioner's Office. Alternatively you may prefer to contact the Information Commissioner's Office direct:
Freedom of Information Section
Cheshire SK9 5AF
Information Line: 0303 123 1113
Fax: 01625 524510
If you are dissatisfied with our response to your request for access to either personal or non-personal information, please see:
You may also appeal if you believe the charges we have made to supply information are unfair. See the Information Commissioner's Office website:
Part 2: Classes of information
These are the categories of information which we are committed to making available under this publication scheme, including links to this information. Available information is grouped under seven 'classes of information'. Information falling into the classes will be retained in accordance with our retention policy that complies with guidance issued by The National Archives.
2.1.1 Roles and responsibilities and organisational structure
About the Commission: This section of our website gives an overview of the Charity Commission for England and Wales, including the role and responsibilities of the Commission and its Board.
Governance framework: This governance framework seeks to be comprehensive and to ensure that we operate according to the highest standards. It was approved by the Board on 27 February 2007 and will be updated on an ongoing basis.
2.1.2 Legislation relevant to the Commission's functions
Charities Act 2011: The Charities Act 2011 came into effect in March 2012. It repeals and replaces the Recreational Charities Act 1958, the Charities Act 1993 and many of the provisions of the Charities Act 2006.
Further information on what the Charities Act means to charities can be obtained on our website.
We cannot provide hard copies of the Charities Acts. These are available from The Stationery Office Ltd (TSO) Online Bookshop. Please see TSO’s website for costs.
Also available from TSO are copies of regulations made by the Home Secretary under these legislations and subsequent amendments. This would include for example The Charities (Accounts and Reports) Regulations 2008 and The Charities (Exception from Registration) (Amendment) Regulations 2007.
2.1.3 Who we work with
Partnership strategy: This strategy seeks to identify ways in which the Charity Commission and the sector can be more effective through improved performance. This strategy also contains details of our existing relationships.
Memoranda of Understanding: These memoranda record the agreed best practice for co-operation between ourselves and other regulators.
2.1.4 Locations of, and contact details for, the Commission
Getting in touch with the Charity Commission: Explains where on our website or elsewhere you can find answers to common queries, and how to contact us about other matters.
Resource accounts: We are required by the Resource Accounting Manual produced by HM Treasury to produce resource accounts. Our resource accounts since 2002/03 are available online.
Procurement: Details of our procurement process and how we select suppliers
Strategies and plans: Our strategic plan and regulatory approach are outlined on our website.
Annual reports: We have to produce a formal report to Parliament each year on our performance and use of resources. A full review of activities and achievements is set out in the annual reports. Our annual reports from 2000 onwards, which includes the Official Custodian for Charities' annual accounts, are available online.
Charity Tribunal decisions: The Charities Act 2006 created a new Charity Tribunal. The Charity Tribunal's website provides full details of its ongoing cases and decisions which it has made about previous cases.
Service first standards: Statement of what our service standards are and the target we expect to achieve for each standard.
Sustainability action plan: In March 2005 the Government published Securing the Future – Delivering the UK Sustainable Development Strategy. This sets out the Government's approach to enabling all people throughout the world to satisfy their basic needs and enjoy a better quality of life without compromising the quality of life for future generations. This action plan sets out our approach to sustainable development and the actions we will be taking in the near future.
Public meetings: We are committed to openness and accountability. Our public meetings are an opportunity to find out first-hand about our work.
Regulatory decisions: Details of our published decisions. In carrying out our function as registrar and regulator, we from time to time make decisions which concern points of law, are novel, significant or otherwise of wider interest and use. In addition, we also publish details of decisions to either accept or reject an application for registration where this may set a precedent, or overturn a previous policy or approach, or which might have implications for other similar organisations, or where there is significant public interest in the outcome.
Review of the charity register: Details of decisions we have taken as part of our review of the register of charities.
Inquiry report statements: We report the outcome of statutory inquiries carried out in accordance with section 50 of the Charities Act 2011 by publishing a statement of results on our website. The reports are available on our website for a period of six months, after which time they are archived. Archived reports are available upon request. There is a list of the archived reports, that have been published since 2005, available on the website.
Consultations: Lists of all current, recent and forthcoming consultation exercises.
Charity Commission operational guidance: We produce internal written guidance on a number of issues concerning charity law and practice and the effect of other legislation on charities and the Charity Commission. A very small amount of information has to be treated as exempt. In these cases the following exemptions may apply: Section 30 - Investigations and Proceedings by Public Authorities and Section 31 - Law Enforcement. Examples include some details about law enforcement, and where disclosure could prejudice the administration of justice.
Charity Commission complaints procedure: Setting out our complaints procedures.
Request for a review of a decision procedure: Setting out our procedures to review decisions.
2.5.1 Human resources
Equality and diversity: The Charity Commission's single equality scheme is our firm commitment to the promotion and support of equality and diversity, which is an integral part of our strategic plan and other key policies.
People Plan: Human Resources is responsible for our strategic HR function, together with all HR operational services; employment policy; employee relations; staff development and training and internal communications. The HR strategy aims to help the Commission achieve its business objectives and realise its vision and values by improving organisational performance through: developing and motivating competent people; attracting and retaining a high performing and diverse workforce; supporting future business and service development. Please contact us to get this information.
Health and safety reports and action plans: Provide information and advice to assist the business in meeting its health and safety obligations. Please contact us to get this information.
Current vacancies: All current vacancies within the Charity Commission.
2.6.1 Register of charities
The register of charities: We are required to keep a public register of charities under section 29(1) of the Charities Act 2011. The public register of charities contains key details of all charities registered in England and Wales. The information contained in the register of charities is a matter of public record and is available for view without charge. However, the entire database is subject to Crown database right. This means that you may:
- access the register and download insubstantial extracts from it onto electronic, magnetic, optical or similar storage media – the repeated and systematic downloading of insubstantial parts of the contents of the register may amount to the downloading of a substantial part of those contents
- download the contents of the register for the purpose of illustration for teaching or research, providing there is no commercial purpose
- download all or a substantial part of the contents of the register containing factual information of any description for any purpose which does not involve making all or a substantial part of those contents available to the public by any means
These are the permitted uses. Any other proposed use of the register and its contents would require a licence from OPSI. You can apply for a licence to the Licensing Division of OPSI at: Crown Copyright, Licensing and Public Sector Information, The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU. Tel: 020 8876 3444. The grant of a licence will be considered by OPSI in consultation with us. Please note that in some circumstances a charge may be levied.
2.6.2 Register of mergers
Mergers: We are required under the provisions of the Charities Act 2011 to keep a register of mergers between charities.
2.6.3 Charities in default of submission of accounts/returns
Non-submission of annual return and accounts – defaulting charities: Within 10 months of their financial year-end charities with an income of over £10,000 are required to send an annual return to us. Charities over £25,000 are required to send us both their annual returns and accounts. We publish lists of charities, grouped by location, that have not submitted these details for one or more of their last financial years.
2.6.4 Register of removed trustees
Register of removed trustees: Under s.182(1) of the 2011 Act we have a statutory duty to keep a register of removed trustees and to make it available for public inspection.
2.6.5 Information asset register
Information asset register: The IAR lists information held by the UK government, concentrating on unpublished resources. Available through The Stationery Office (TSO).
2.7.1 Publications and guidance
Charity Commission guidance: We produce a range of detailed guidance which provides information about charity law, recommended best practice, the duties of charity trustees, and our role as a charity regulator. You can read or listen to the guidance on our website.
Statement of Recommended Practice: accounting and reporting by charities (known as the Charities SORP): Explains how charities should prepare their accounts in accordance with widely agreed best practice. By following the recommendations of SORP, charities will improve the quality of their accounts and annual reports.
SORP: example reports and accounts: To assist charities preparing their reports and accounts in line with the recommendations of SORP 2005, we have produced a number of example reports and accounts that may be helpful in designing the layout and format of these documents.
Frequently asked questions: We publish frequently asked questions on a variety of topics.
Complaining about a charity: We produce guidance on what you can do if you have concerns about a charity.
2.7.2 Information on charities
Printed reports from the register of charities: Printed reports are the result of searches of the register, which we do on your behalf, for groups of charities. There are two forms of report: standard and detailed. There may be a charge associated with this information. An exemption from the liability to pay a fee as prescribed by The Charity Commissioners' Fees (Copies and Extracts) Regulations 1992 may be granted (Regulation 6).
Facts and figures from the register of charities: General facts and figures taken from the register of charities which we make available on our website, for example number of charities that are on the register and breakdown of income. Please note this applies only to general facts and figures from the register of charities. Specific requests for other facts and figures from the database will be considered separately and there may be a charge for that information.
Charity accounts and annual reports: Copies of charities' accounts and annual reports (if they have been submitted); where gross income or expenditure is over £25,000 pa. We are required to hold copies of accounts for six years. Accounts with a year end of 2004 onwards and an income of over £25,000 pa may be available on our website. There may be a charge for printed copies of accounts and annual reports. Exemptions from the liability to pay may be granted to any trustee, officer or employee of a charity who requires copies relating to that charity.
Charity governing documents: Copies of charities' governing documents such as trust deed, constitution, memorandum and articles of association. The Charity Commission is required to make copies or particulars of the trusts of any registered charity, as supplied to the Commission, open to public inspection. It does so by making copies available on request. These documents are provided as supplied and will not be edited by the Commission. The Commission cannot therefore guarantee the accuracy of the information and cannot accept responsibility for the consequences of any person relying on it as an accurate statement of a charity's trusts. There may be a charge for this information. Exemptions from the liability to pay for information provided from the register may be granted to any trustee, officer or employee of a charity who requires copies or extracts of documents relating to that charity; or any trustee, officer or employee of a charity who requires copies of extracts for purposes connected with making a resolution under Part 13 of the Charities Act 2011.
Incorporation of trustees: Applications for, and certificates of, incorporation sent to us under Part 12 of the Charities Act 2011. These documents may be inspected under the direction of the Charity Commission. Any requirement for a copy or extract of any such document must be certified by a certificate signed by an authorised officer of the Charity Commission. Inspection is only permitted by prior arrangement.
2.7.3 Promoting effective performance
Research reports: We publish reports from broadly based studies of themes and issues that affect the charity sector. These reports examine many interlinking themes and issues in governance and finance that affect the charity sector.
Charity Commission schemes and orders: Details of latest draft and sealed schemes and orders of the Charity Commission. Publicity may be given by displaying notices inviting representations to be made to us about the proposals within one month, as required by law. We send trustees copies of the notices and full instructions for publishing them. Details of draft and sealed schemes and orders remain on the website for one month, the statutory period of notice required for their publication.
Charities working internationally: Legal requirements and recommended good practice for charities whose work is either wholly or partly international or overseas based.
Press releases: All press releases issued by us are published on our website.
2.7.5 Parliamentary questions and accountability
Parliamentary questions: Published parliamentary questions and responses relating to the Charity Commission.
If you wish to search for PQs (either Commons or Lords) from previous sittings of Parliament, or read the text of debates from either the main chambers or Westminster Hall, please visit the Hansard website.
Charity Commission News: Newsletter sent to all registered charities
Last updated May 2013