Charity Commission chief executive Sam Younger refused to comment on the fact that his new chair did not bother to keep up-to-date with his own charity’s document filing, minutes after imploring a room full of trustees to ensure they file on time.
In his keynote address to the Community Action Southwark Trustee Conference this morning, Younger (pictured) said he is still constantly surprised by the number of charities that don’t comply with “the fairly simple requirement, particularly for smaller organisations but for organisations of all sizes, to file annual returns and accounts with the Commission.
“It’s still amazing to me how many are late, and there are some quite large charities that are late year after year.
“So if any of you haven’t filed on time, go away and do it tonight, because now we put up red flags on our website if charities don’t file on time.”
But a few minutes later, Younger refused to comment on the fact that the charity that was chaired for 23 years by the Commission’s own new chair William Shawcross, did not bother to file its annual update within the recommended good-practice deadline for four out of the last five years.
Civilsociety.co.uk revealed this week that the charity, Response, only filed its updates for 2011 and 2012 five days before Shawcross was announced as preferred candidate for the job, and the updates for 2010 and 2009 were submitted in June and May of this year.
When asked by civilsociety.co.uk this morning what kind of message that sends to the sector, when the Commission is constantly striving to encourage charities to improve their compliance, Younger said: “I’m not going to comment on that, you’ll have to ask him.” Pressed on whether it makes the Commission’s task much harder, he responded: “I don’t want to comment.”
As a charity with income of less than £10,000 a year, Response was not required to file an annual return or accounts but it should have submitted an annual update confirming details of its income and expenditure. Although there is no statutory deadline for filing an update, the Commission still recommends that they are sent in within ten months of the financial year-end, and applies a red border on the online register to those that don’t.
Shawcross: Most charities don't need regulation
Shawcross admitted to civilsociety.co.uk this week that Response's entry would have had a red border for most of the last five years. He gave an explanation that it was “just a tiny charity” and later suggested he didn’t think smaller charities needed regulating. He said: “Most of the 160,000 registered charities don’t require regulation – they’re small and they get on with their work properly and independently and it’s only a few that do require to be looked at.
“But those few are very important, it’s very important that the Commission is able to regulate the ones that need regulation and are doing things they should not be doing.”
Nearly 71,000 charities on the Charity Commission's register have income below £10,000.