Charity Commission to wind down policy letting charities delay accounts submission 

05 Jul 2021 News

Charities that have been granted an extension to filing their financial update with the Charity Commission have been told they have until 30 September to submit their documents. 

Since April 2020 charities have been able to request an extension if they are unable to submit their accounts or annual return due to the pandemic. The regulator says it has updated its guidance and approach because coronavirus restrictions are being eased

Those charities that had an active extension in place by 30 June 2021 are being contacted to tell them that they need to submit their documents by 30 September. 

For other charities that wish to apply for an extension, if successful, they will be granted a fixed three-month extension from the date of their application. 

So far, the Commission has granted around 90% of applications, and emphasised that charities should have been up-to-date prior to the pandemic. 

In May the regulator said there were 5,000 charities out of the 169,000 on the Commission's register with an active charity accounts extension in place. Today it said around 3,500 active extensions. 

Elsewhere for charities that are on top of their reporting, the Commission’s annual return service for 2021 went live last week, meaning charities can now submit their annual update to the regulator covering key financial and governance details about their charity. 

Charities have from ten months after their financial year-end to submit their annual return to the Commission. 

Other Covid updates 

The Commission has updated other parts of its guidance as restrictions are lifted. 

Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 provisions, which permitted charitable companies and charitable incorporated organisations (CIOs) to hold AGMs and other members’ meetings online regardless of their governing documents, ended on 30 March 2021.

However, for normal trustee meetings the Commission’s guidance is that these should still take place remotely where possible.

It says: “Under the restrictions in place in England and Wales from 21 June 2021, if you can, you should hold trustee or member meetings online or by telephone. However, if you cannot do this, you can hold trustee or members’ meetings in person if this is necessary to provide voluntary or charitable services.” 

The Commission has updated the guidance on insolvency provisions that temporarily suspend the use of statutory demands and restrict winding up petitions, where a company or CIO cannot pay its bills due to the coronavirus emergency. The guidance notes that these provisions have been extended to 30 September 2021.

Paul Latham, director of communications and policy at the Charity Commission, said: “We’ve taken a flexible and supportive approach to regulation during the pandemic and have granted filing extensions where requested in most cases to support charities during this challenging time.

“As we move forward, it’s right that we adapt our guidance to ensure that charities are gradually returning to meeting their normal filing requirements and are demonstrating the level of transparency that the public expects via their accounts.”

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