The Charity Commission saw a 60 per cent year-on-year increase in the number of statutory inquiries it opened, according to its annual report and accounts for the year to March 2015, published yesterday.
The total number of statutory inquiries – which are launched when the Commission suspects serious wrongdoing – rose from 64 in the year to March 2014 to 103 in the most recent year.
There were 133 investigations open at the end of the year, compared to 87 the year before.
However the number of operational compliance cases – a less serious form of investigation – fell sharply, from 1,865 the year before to 1,024 in the most recent year.
The Commission said the drop was down to a change of emphasis. It said that more work is being done in its first contact division, and in its investigation and enforcement division, leading to a lower number of cases.
The Commission also received a significantly increased number of serious incident reports – a report from trustees if their charity has been threatened by loss of cash, mismanagement or reputation damage. Reports rose 66 per cent, from 1,282 to 2,129.
“We believe this is as a result of our concerted campaign to promote awareness among trustees of their responsibility to report serious incidents,” the annual report said. “While we are pleased about the increase in reporting, our case work continues to reveal too many instances where charities have experienced serious incidents but have failed to report them to us.”
Almost half of new charities are CIOs
The Charity Commission registered more than 2,200 charitable incorporated organisations in the year to March 2015 – 48 per cent of all new registrations.
Applications to register as a charity rose by 8 per cent to 7,192. But both the number and the percentage of successful applications fell.
There were 64 applications successfully processed in the year for every 100 applications received, compared to 75 to every 100 in the previous year. The Commission said this was down to a more rigorous approach
Only 34 applications were formally refused. Most of the rest did not progress after the Commission raised queries or asked for more information.
The report shows the Commission spent £21.2m, around 1 per cent under its annual budget.
William Shawcross (pictured), chair of the Commission, and Paula Sussex, its chief executive, wrote in their joint introduction that the year was “a year of successes” for the Commission.
“We secured an additional £9 million of investment funding from the Treasury,” the introduction said. “This vote of confidence is now enabling our transformation programme, agreed by the board in 2014. This programme will strengthen our triage systems, so that we can identify problems in existing charities and in applications for charitable registration more effectively. It will also allow us to automate most of our lowest risk interactions with charities, thereby freeing up our staff to focus on complex and high risk regulatory case work.