Charity Commission investigates financial difficulties at Leonard Cheshire

26 May 2023 News

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Leonard Cheshire

The Charity Commission has confirmed it is investigating Leonard Cheshire over financial difficulties it is facing.

Leonard Cheshire reported facing “significant” financial issues in its most recent annual report, for the year to March 2022 when the charity’s income was £158m, with challenges recruiting frontline staff while making redundancies elsewhere.

The Commission opened its inquiry in December 2022, before the latest accounts were published, after the disability charity’s trustees approached the regulator in April 2022 about the financial difficulties it faced.

CEO: Expansion of services led to financial difficulties

Ruth Owen, chief executive of Leonard Cheshire, said the charity had encountered financial challenges in recent years as it had attempted to expand its services.

“In April 2022, we alerted the Charity Commission about these difficulties, and put in place a new business plan,” she said.

“We are now working with the Charity Commission to ensure that this plan succeeds and that we can keep delivering our valuable work with disabled people for decades to come.”

Helen Earner, director of regulatory services at the Charity Commission, said: “Leonard Cheshire’s latest accounts highlight the charity’s challenging financial situation, and the positive steps trustees are taking to address these.

“The trustees came to us proactively, and we are working with the charity’s new chair and the executive leadership, in the context of a statutory inquiry, to support them in this work.

“The charity has cooperated fully with us. We are satisfied that the charity has a robust turnaround plan in place and is making progress in putting it into action.

“The Charity Commission will continue to work with the new trustee board to ensure that there are appropriate, robust governance structures in place for a charity of this size.”

Delay to inquiry announcement

The Charity Commission usually releases a public statement whenever it opens a statutory inquiry into a charity but has not yet published one on its website regarding Leonard Cheshire.

According to its website, the Commission won’t release a statement if it considers that this would not be in the public interest.

It may also decide not to release a statement if it would:
•    Be detrimental to a particular individual or group of individuals, for example a risk to someone’s personal safety.
•    Contravene or prejudice requirements for confidentiality or commercial sensitivity, or risk national security.
•    Cause severe prejudice to the charity and/or its beneficiaries.
•    Contravene the Commission’s duty to use its resources in the most efficient, effective and economic way.

The Commission may delay release of a statement to avoid prejudicing the work of a law enforcement agency or other regulator, give trustees opportunity to complete certain actions within a specified timeframe or avoid prejudicing ongoing or pending legal proceedings.

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