Around 6,000 charities, including the Prince Andrew Charitable Trust, missed last week’s deadline to file their annual accounts or annual return with the Charity Commission.
As of 3 February, the Commission’s online search tool shows that 22,160 charities have out-of-date documents, up from 16,225 at the end of January, meaning that nearly 6,000 missed their deadline on Friday.
Many charities have a financial year ending on 31 March. Charities with incomes over £25,000 had until 31 January, 10 months after that date, to file financial information with the Charity Commission.
There have been progressively fewer charities missing the 31 January deadline. Last year around 6,700 charities were late, in 2018 it was 7,500 and in 2017 over 10,000 missed the deadline.
But the total number of charities that have outstanding documents has increased during recent years, suggesting an increase in charities that have not filed for successive years, or in those with year ends other than 31 March. In early February 2018 there were 16,000 charities with overdue documents, 6,000 fewer than today.
Late filers highlighted on register
Late filers are highlighted on the Commission’s register with a red border, and every year the regulator runs a public campaign to encourage charities to file on time.
Some 238 charities with incomes over £1m have overdue documents, down from 250 this time last year. There are currently 1,177 late filers with incomes between £100,000 and £1m, down from 1,544 last year.
Larger charities with outstanding documents are often involved in an insolvency process or are already in contact with the Commission about issues.
But more charities with incomes under £100,000 are late filing than this time last year. Currently 20,745 are late filing documents, up from 15,330 last year.
A Commission spokesperson said: “We’re pleased to see that the overall number of charities filing on time, and therefore meeting their legal obligations as trustees, is increasing. The Commission has supported this figure through measures including the increase in our contact centre hours, allowing us to provide more support and guidance to charities when they need it.
“But we know there is still work to do to support the charities who missed the deadline. In particular, the number of smaller charities missing deadlines and not updating the Commission on their income has increased, so over the next few months we’re planning to develop how we communicate with smaller charities to better support their filing.”
Prince Andrew Charitable Trust among late-filers
This year the Prince Andrew Charitable Trust has not filed its accounts on time. It was set up in the 1980s and is described on the Duke of York’s website as a charity that “makes donations to charitable bodies where the duke has a particular link or interest”.
Prince Andrew is not among its trustees. In 2018 the Trust had an income of £1.4m.
Last year the royal announced he was stepping back from public life, including charitable work, after being widely criticised for an interview with the BBC’s Newsnight programme about his dealings with Jeffrey Epstein.
The Prince Andrew Charitable Trust declined to comment.
Other charities that missed the deadline include the transport charity HCT, which last year had an income of £63m, and relationship support charity Relate, which previously had an income of around £5m.
Aidan Jones, chief executive of Relate, said: “We are in the process of finalising Relate’s annual report and accounts, and will file them with the Charity Commission imminently. We completely understand how crucial the collating and reporting of robust financial information is and that is why we are taking the time to ensure all information is present and correct.”
HCT said that a cyber attack earlier this year destroyed data and has led to a delay in compiling the information.
In a statement, the charity said: “In May 2019, the audit of our accounts was well underway. At that point, HCT Group and its subsidiaries were the victim of a major cyber-attack. The outcome of the cyber-attack was significant, permanent data loss, including of financial data.
“Our auditors could not assess data that was no longer there. We have spent the intervening time rebuilding information, records and transaction detail, working with specialists and our stakeholders, and following the advice of our auditors. We are working round the clock to finish the audit and submit our accounts.”
Editor's note: 15.30 6 February
This article has been updated after a spokesperson confirmed that the charity did not wish to comment.