Charity Commission publishes analysis of annual return consultation

24 October 2013

The Charity Commission has published the results of the consultation on proposed changes to the annual return and changes to the information displayed on the register of charities. Along with an analysis, the regulator has also announced the key changes charities should expect for 2014.

The changes include a number of new questions that charities will be required to answer in the annual return for 2014. In addition, the Commission will publish information of interest to the public which it already holds, or which is held by others, on the online register of charities. Of the ten proposals outlined in the consultation, all were supported by the majority of respondents.

The key changes will include:

  • An additional question, and published answer, about whether the charity pays trustees
  • The publication of whether a charity is a member of the Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB)
  • Discontinuing the Summary Information Return1, as recommended by Lord Hodgson
  • All charities will be encouraged to use the free text box to describe their aims for the year and corresponding achievements

Since the consultation was announced in May, the Commission has identified additional information that it will collect and display as part of its toughened approach to the scrutiny of accounts, including whether charities accounts have been qualified by an auditor or independent examiner. The Commission will also display whether the charity is insolvent, in administration or subject to enforcement action for non-submission of accounts.

Jane Hobson, Head of Policy at the Charity Commission said:

"The annual return is an important tool that the Commission uses to inform its regulatory approach, promote good governance and make sure that charities are accountable to the public.

In developing the proposals for the consultation we were mindful of getting the balance right between the need for charities to be transparent without making the task of completing the annual return too much of a burden and we are pleased that all ten proposals were agreed to by the majority of the respondents to the consultation.

We have also taken additional comments from the respondents into consideration and we understand that charities will need new, comprehensive guidance to support them in completing their annual return. We will publish this alongside the new form in January 2014."

These changes do not affect the annual return for 2013 that many charities are still due to complete. The changes will come into effect for the annual return for 2014 and the new questions and form will be available in January 2014.

Ends

PR 45/13

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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.

2. 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

Endnotes

1. Charities with an income over £1million are required to complete a Summary Information Return as part of their annual return. They will have to do this for annual return 2013 but it will be discontinued for annual return 2014.

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