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Charity regulation update: 13 January 2020

13 Jan 2020 News

Catch-up on the latest announcements, new guidance and developments from the UK’s charity regulators.

Charity Commission for England and Wales 

Charities being investigated

SPAC Nation

The Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into Christian faith charity SPAC Nation that will examine its financial, governance and safeguarding activities. 

The Commission has ordered the charity to deposit substantial amounts of cash in a bank and is also concerned by a “lack of clarity” between the personal, business and charity roles of its leaders. The inquiry will also investigate allegations from several individuals that they were encouraged to give money to the charity and people connected to the charity by taking on personal debt. 

Read our full news story.

Alauddin Siddiqui Trust

The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into a charity associated with the Jamia Mohi Ul Islam Siddiqui Mosque in Oldham, where an “apparent split” means the charity is no longer providing a place of worship.

Read our full news story.

Under Trees School

The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into Under Trees School, which is an education charity running projects in South Sudan. The regulator has also restricted use of the charity’s bank account. The regulator first engaged with the school in January 2019 and became concerned about its financial controls. 

Kamyabi

The Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into women’s charity Kamyabi over concerns that it is not being operated for the public benefit. 

Kamyabi is based in Nottingham and its stated aim is to help women, but when the Commission visited it found that its main activity appeared to be recycling clothes. 

The Retreat Animal Rescue 

The Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into The Retreat Animal Rescue (RAR) to examine concerns about its financial operations and governance. 

RAR provides veterinary care for animals and runs a rehoming shelter, It has been part of the regulator’s class inquiry for charities which have failed to submit their accounts since 2018. This led the Commission to discover issues relating to the charity’s rent and payment to a trustee, which could be in breach of its governing document. 

Marie Stopes 

The Commission has issued formal guidance and closed its operational compliance case into Marie Stopes International. The regulator criticised the charity for the way it made the decision to give its chief executive a 100 per cent bonus. 

Marie Stopes International had not been able to provide the Commission with evidence that a “proper and robust discussion” took place either at full board or at the charity’s remuneration committee about the appropriate level of pay.

Trustees have accepted that improvements need to be made. 

Read our news story.  

Jole Rider Friends

The Charity Commission has banned the founding trustees of Jole Rider Friends for 12 years after finding them responsible for serious mismanagement of governance and finance. The individuals involved have been critical of the way the Commission has handled the case, accusing the regulator of being unprofessional.

Read our news story. 

Sikh Channel Community Broadcasting Company 

The regulator has opened a statutory inquiry after meeting with trustees at the end of last year. It is concerned about governance, financial management, partnerships with other bodies, conduct of trustees and whether trustees have received private benefit. 

Since the inquiry opened, the charity has appointed new trustees and a new chief executive. 

Guidance

In December the Charity Commission published supplementary support for charities about reporting serious incidents when they involve a partner, but has been criticised by NCVO.

The Commission requires charities to report serious incidents. Serious incidents need to be reported to the Commission even if the police, donors or another regulator is also aware. A serious incident is an adverse event, whether actual or alleged. 

But NCVO said that the supplementary guidance does not provide sufficient clarification and will only increase the Commission’s workload.

Read our full news story.  

Other announcements 

Fraud alert 

The Charity Commission has issued an alert to charities warning that there are fraudsters targeting the sector. The charity regulator said it has received several reports from charities which have been targeted by fraudsters who are impersonating members of staff and are attempting to change employees’ bank details. In all these cases the requests have been made via email.  

Read our full news story.

Baroness Stowell speech

In a speech for women chairs and chief executives of charities, the Commission's chair called on the sector to be more open about what they are changing to meet the public's expectations, highlighted some of the progress the regulator has made and reflected on where the regulator could do more.

Stowell said that the Christmas period is “a time when we lift our heads above our own individual hopes, worries, ambitions, interests, and think about others,” adding: “People want to see that what goes on in a charity is motivated by the same spirit of charity that prompts them to volunteer at a shelter on Christmas day, or sacrifice a luxury for themselves in order to make a larger Christmas donation.”  

Read our news story. 

Dove Trust update

The Charity Commission has said it intends to apply for the £84,000 that is left in the Dove Trust's accounts, five years after the interim manager began distributing funds to charities that were owed money. A public notice explains proposals and has a witness statement from the Commission to support an application to the High Court. 

Read our news story

OSCR, the Scottish Charity Regulator 

Webinar on receipts and payments accounts 

OSCR has published a new webinar on its website to help charities preparing receipts and payments accounts.

Charity Commission for Northern Ireland (CCNI) 

Annual return reminders

CCNI has sent 8,800 charity trustees a letter reminding that they need to submit their annual return this month. 

It said 2,050 charities are due to submit by 31 January 2020 – of which 700 have already filed annual reporting information.

Fundraising Regulator 

Blog from chair

The Fundraising Regulator’s chair, Lord Toby Harris, has published a blog looking back on the year and its role in upholding trust. 

He said: “The Fundraising Regulator will be broadening our focus to engage more with donors and the general public, including reviewing the badge, the Fundraising Promise and the Fundraising Preference Service. 

“We are also turning our attention to reviewing the guidance we provide to both the sector and the public on our website and begin work on setting out our second strategic plan, which will take us to the year 2024.” 

Information Commissioner's Office 

Consultation

The ICO has opened a public consultation on a draft direct marketing code of practice. It builds on previous guidance produced by the data regulator.  

The deadline to respond is 4 March 2020. 

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