26 September 2012
Over a third of charities that were late in filing their annual account information in 2011 had prepared the document in good time, new research from the Charity Commission has revealed.
The regulator has looked at the accounts of 400 late-filing charities and found that 35%* were signed before the charities' respective filing deadlines - suggesting the charities were simply not filing the information online and on time with the regulator.
The Charity Commission's Chief Executive, Sam Younger, will present the findings at the regulator's Annual Public Meeting in London today.
Sam Younger, who today also published a comment piece on the subject, will say this suggests some trustees are "too relaxed about their legal duties" and that the regulator needs to "toughen up its message" on late filing.
In his presentation, Sam Younger will also reveal that nearly a quarter (23%) of defaulting charities with incomes of over £250,000 had filed their accounts late for all of the previous five financial years, and that only around quarter of the sample (27% of charities with incomes of over £250k; 24% of those with incomes under £250k) had never previously defaulted on their reporting requirements.
Sam Younger will say this suggests many charities are "repeat offenders" and that failing to file accounts online and on time was "a habitual problem".
He will also reveal that 39% of late filers that were companies had filed their accounts on time with Companies House, suggesting charities were either more aware of or concerned about that regulator's requirements.
The research comes shortly after Lord Hodgson's review of the Charities Act, Trusted and Independent - giving back to charities, suggested penalising late filing charities by restricting their access to Gift Aid.
The Commission's APM is focused on the theme of public trust and confidence in charities. The event includes a panel debate on whether charities "deserve the trust they enjoy".
Panelists include Dan Corry, Chief Executive of charity New Philanthropy Capital; Steve Egan, Deputy Chief Executive of the Higher Education Funding Council; Dr Caroline Harper, Chief Executive of the charity Sightsavers, and Joe Saxton, founder of the charity consultancy nfpSynergy.
A full report of the panel debate will be available on the Commission's website shortly.
In his summing-up, John Wood, the regulator's interim Chair, will say that promoting accountability among charities is among the Commission's key strategic aims, and that trustees of charities need to "get the message that filing on time and online is not optional - it's a condition of trusteeship".
Other key findings from the research include:
Charities can find out about the range of online services available by visiting the Manage your charity section of the Charity Commission's website.
For further information on this story please 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 or call our contact centre on 0845 300 0218.
2. To be the independent registrar and regulator of charities in England and Wales acting in the public's interest to ensure that:
3. There are over 160,000 main registered charities, some of which have similar names or working names. To avoid confusion, each registered charity can be identified by its individual registration number, which can be checked on the Register of Charities.
* All figures based on sample of 400 charities that filed their annual accounts late in 2011, unless otherwise stated. Figures relating to signed accounts based on proportion of sample whose filed accounts included signature (290).
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