The regulator has opened an inquiry into Rossendale Valley Mencap, a charity for people with learning disabilities, due to its outstanding accounts.
According to the register of charities, the charity’s accounts are overdue by 1,334 days – which is almost four years. The regulator has said it will be investigating potential misconduct and/or mismanagement in the charity’s administration.
The Commission began working with the Lancashire-based charity in December 2017 and has issued trustees with two action plans that included requirement to sort out the overdue accounts and other governance issues.
The charity did not comply with these plans, which has led to the regulator escalating the case to an inquiry as it is concerned that the charity’s assets could be at risk.
In 2019, Mencap advised the regulator that the charity is no longer affiliated with the national disability charity. Rossendale Valley Mencap told the Commission it intends to operate under the name Rossendale Open House instead.
The inquiry will examine whether the charity’s trustees are complying with their legal duties, including whether the charity has a sufficient number of trustees who are willing and capable of managing it in accordance with its governing document.
The inquiry will inspect the charity’s management of its resources and whether assets are secure. The Commission will also investigate the charity’s failure to supply its annual accounts and whether there are appropriate safeguarding measures in place for the vulnerable beneficiaries the charity aims to support.
The Commission may extend the scope of the inquiry if further issues emerge.
Kate Oldroyd, network manager from Mencap, said: “Mencap works with over 340 network partners, and we are pleased that the Charity Commission has opened this inquiry. We hope that by exercising further powers, this will enable a full investigation into the issues raised concerning Rossendale Valley Mencap and ensure that as a charity they are serving the best interests of the people they are supporting.”
Rossendale Valley Mencap
Rossendale Valley Mencap was registered in 1982 under the name of Rossendale Society for Mentally Handicapped Children and Adults until 2011.
It also operates under the working name Gateway Club.
Earlier this week, the Lancashire Telegraph reported that a man had left a share of a £400,000 legacy to the charity. The article referred to it as Rossendale Gateway Open House.
The charity last filed its accounts in September 2016 – almost five years ago. These accounts record the charity’s total income as £23,875 for the financial year. Charities with an income this low do not have to file their full annual accounts with the Commission.
In 2016, the charity had just one trustee and five volunteers. The email address the regulator lists for the charity is the Yahoo address of Ingrid Rawlins who – from articles reported in the Rossendale Free Press – seems to have worked with the charity since 2013.
Mary Fishwick is listed as the charity’s only trustee on the Commission's register. No phone number is provided and its website does not work.
Editor's note: This article has been edited to include a quote from Mencap.