The Charity Commission faced its “busiest year” for the year to 31 March 2019, according to the regulator’s annual report.
The regulator published its annual report yesterday. This included a 60 per cent jump in its use of formal investigatory and enforcement powers compared to the previous year, 83 per cent more reports from whistle blowers inside the charity sector, and a 50 per cent increase in the number of serious incidents reports.
The report also shows a sharp increase in recruitment at the Charity Commission. It says that 140 new employees have joined over the last year, with just 39 staff leaving.
This means overall staff numbers have risen by around a third, from 305 in March 2018 to 410 in March 2019.
Thanks to the additional funding from central government driving recruitment, the regulator says it has now increased its operations capacity by 37 per cent, its investigations capacity by 39 per cent, and its IT functions by 55 per cent.
‘Demand continues to rise’
Despite this growth, the report warns that “demands on our services continue to rise, and are compounded by the relatively small size of our individual teams. This means that urgent and new requirements are often difficult to accommodate. This poses risks to the well-being and safety of our staff.”
There were 8,074 applications to the register in 2018/19, with the Commission assessing around 30 applications each working day.
However, just under 5,000 organisations were registered as charities during the same period, so that around 40 per cent of applications were rejected. Applications often failed because applicants didn’t provide the right information or failed to answer requests for additional information, the report said.
‘Delivering on our strategy’
It also contains details of the new "core change committee", which has been meeting throughout 2019 to oversee the delivery of the five-year strategy.
Helen Stephenson, the Charity Commission's chief executive and accounting officer, said: “Public expectations of charity, and the role of charity in our society, are changing, and it is vital that charities change with it. As the regulator, we exist to serve the public interest, and are committed to ensuring everything we do helps charity thrive and inspire trust so that people can improve lives and strengthen society.
“This year we have started to deliver on our ambitious new strategy under challenging circumstances, which include the growing demand on our core functions, making this the busiest year for us.
“My priorities in the coming months will be to ensure we are customer-focused in all that we do and that we are giving trustees the tools they need to succeed in an ever-changing world. It is also to ensure we are properly resourced, so that our expert staff can make the significant progress outlined in our new strategy at the pace we believe is required.”
Stephenson, the highest paid member of staff at the Charity Commission, took home between £130,000 and £135,000 in 2018/19.