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Charity Commission publishes annual report about its regulatory work

29 Jan 2019 News

The Charity Commission opened over 2,000 regulatory compliance cases in 2017/18, with nearly a quarter relating to safeguarding issues, according to a report published today. 

In a report published today, Dealing with wrongdoing and harm, the regulator said that it had opened 2,269 regulatory compliance, up from 1,164. 

It said that 552 related to new safeguarding cases, making safeguarding the third most frequent issue. 

Serious governance concerns accounted for 730 cases while “other” was the second highest issue. 

Types of compliance case:

  • Serious governance concerns – 730 
  • Other – 582
  • Safeguarding – 552
  • Financial abuse - 466
  • Trustee pay or concerns about trustee benefit – 323
  • Fraud, theft or misapplication of funds – 204
  • Concerns about fundraising – 72
  • Land issues – 64 
  • Unmanaged conflicts of interest – 44
  • Alleged terrorism - 4

Rise in serious incidents 

It also saw an increase in the number of serious incidents reported by charities. 2,819 were reported to the Commission in 2017/18, up from 2,181 the previous year. 

Some 1,580 reports of serious incidents related to safeguarding. But the Commission is still concerned that serious incidents are being underreported. 

On several occasions last year the Commission had urged charities to make sure that they were reporting safeguarding issues, in the wake of a number of high-profile scandals.

Statutory inquiries 

The Commission opened fewer statutory inquiries – its most serious level of investigation – than the previous year. 

Some 138 were opened, down from 187. But the 2016/17 figures are skewed by the opening of a class inquiry involving 74 connected charities. 

In 2015/16 the Commission opened just 53 statutory inquiries. 

The Commission concluded 79 statutory inquires during the year, down from 94 the previous year. 

Most statutory inquiries related to financial abuse or mismanagement, with 124 falling into this category. 

Serious governance concerns featured in 20 inquiries and alleged terrorism in nine. 

Use of powers

The Commission also highlighted that it has used new powers introduced by the Charities Act 2016 on 137 occasions. 

This included 21 people being disqualified from being trustees, six charities receiving official warnings, and 17 instances where the Commission directed that property be applied in the interests of the charity. 

Overall it used its powers 1,135 times, up from 1,099. 

‘Here to help’

The Commission said that this report showed it was dealing with wrongdoing in the sector, but that it also wants to support the sector. 

Helen Stephenson, chief executive of the Charity Commission, said: “This report tells of the Commission’s continued effectiveness in dealing with wrongdoing and harm in charities, including through the appropriate and confident use of the new powers we were granted.”

She called on the sector to play its part. 

“Trustees who together oversee more than £70bn of annual income are the first line of defence in securing the reputation of their own charities and more widely that of the sector as a whole. 
“That is a huge responsibility and the Commission is here to help, not just to step in when things go wrong. So while we are dealing with more regulatory compliance cases and more reports of serious incidents than ever before as the number of charities on the register continues to grow, it is important to recognise the hard work and dedication of the overwhelming majority of trustees.” 

Stephenson added that the Commission was working on “becoming more preventative”, which means “developing the risk-based element to its work so that it can spot potential problems before they occur”.

Charities interested in good governance can now sign up to attend the Trustee Exchange conference in April.


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