Companies House and Charity Commission consider common filing

22 May 2012 News

Companies House and the Charity Commission are looking at how they can accept the same sets of accounts and common annual returns, in an effort to reduce red tape for charities.

Charity Commission

Companies House and the Charity Commission are looking at how they can accept the same sets of accounts and common annual returns, in an effort to reduce red tape for charities.

The Commission plans to consult the sector on the proposals during the summer.

This revelation is contained in the Office for Civil Society’s report on progress made on recommendation 8 of Lord Hodgson’s red tape-busting report Unshackling Good Neighbours, published this week.

Lord Hodgson’s recommendation was that “regulatory duplication, particularly between Companies House and the Charity Commission, should be eliminated”.

In its update, the OCS said: “The Charity Commission has identified that this is the only example of regulatory duplication with which it is involved, as HMRC requires different information from charities registered for gift aid.

“Companies House and the Charity Commission are working together to address this issue and are considering both the joint submission of accounts and common annual returns.

“There is willingness and commitment from both organisations to address this recommendation, although there are technical challenges to be overcome. Companies House (and HMRC) use a different software format for the submission of accounts to that used by the Commission and, following discussions with a small number of large charitable companies, it is not clear whether that format is suitable for charities.

“The Commission will be consulting on the change during the summer.”

The OCS added that once an effective solution is identified, there will be technical work to be done and a period of transition and adjustment for charities will be needed to become used to the different format.

It said there is an inherent problem in the proposal, in that the two regulators use their annual returns in different ways.  “These differences do not necessarily prevent a single portal being developed, but they do add complexity and a business case is under development to ensure that any changes are made following a full appraisal of the benefits.”

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