The Charity Commission is working with the Church of England on plans to register 35,000 church charities over the next decade.
Church charities currently have “excepted” status, which means that although they are regulated by the Commission they do not appear on the register.
Plans to bring churches onto the Register of Charities have been delayed a number of times, but the Commission’s business plan for 2021-22, published earlier this year, sets out plans to begin the process.
The plan said: “We will also begin preparations for an expanded Register, working with the Church of England to pilot and manage the receipt of applications from cathedrals applying for charitable status and then up to 35,000 excepted church charities over the next decade.”
To do this the Commission said it will train its caseworkers and strengthen its legal team.
Other priorities for 2022
Registering churches falls under the Commission’s broader priority to “continue to deliver a step change in our robust approach to regulation”.
This also includes plans to increase the amount of proactive work it does to uncover wrongdoing and make it easier for people to report issues to the Commission.
The Commission’s other three priorities are to help the sector recover from the pandemic, improve its use of data, and create an effective work environment.
As part of helping charities recover from the pandemic the Commission aims to launch a trustee portal “as the first step in building a more one to one relationship with trustees”.
It will also “develop an action plan to improve charities’ compliance in submitting statutory returns, including managing the extensions granted to charities in 2020-21 due to Covid-19”.
Through improving its use of data the Commission will “begin a fundamental review of the data we collect from the sector through statutory returns, such as the Annual Return, Register Particulars, and the Charities Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP)”.
It will also run communication campaigns to “help the public engage with information about charities when deciding which to support”.
The business plan was first published in the summer and updated recently. We covered the story in December due to receiving an alert about about an update the page and mistakenly believing it to be new. The story has been edited to clarify the timing.