Regulator publishes guidance about reporting serious incidents during the pandemic 

04 Jun 2020 News

The Charity Commission has relaxed the threshold at which a reduction in income means a charity must report a serious incident.   

As part of guidance published yesterday about reporting serious incidents during pandemics, the Commission said that its usual thresholds for reporting financial losses do not apply to income lost due Covid-19. 

Usually the Commission expects charities to report any financial losses that don’t involve a crime where they exceed either £25,000 or 20% of the charity’s income.

Yesterday’s guidance says: “These thresholds do not apply when considering financial losses that are related to the pandemic. Trustees should focus on the significance of the impact of any losses rather than the amount.”

Charities are still expected to file a serious incident report if they expect they will be forced to close within the next 12 months due to lack of income. 

The Commission also said that charities do not need to automatically file a serious incident report if they have taken action like closing their premises to follow government rules.

However, trustees should still consider whether the impact of this action is significant enough to report an incident, particularly where this is likely to mean at-risk people miss out on services or the closure is expected to be permanent. 

Extra examples of what should be reported 

The Commission said charities that experience an outbreak of coronavirus that prevents them from operating should report that as an incident. They do not need to tell the Commission about one staff member isolating with suspected coronavirus.

Charities do not need to let the Commission know if they have furloughed staff, but should file a serious incident report if this means vulnerable beneficiaries may be at risk. 

The Commission said that incidents of coronavirus-related fraud or scams that cause harm to the charity should be reported. 

Any charities being investigated by HMRC or the police over breaches of lockdown rules or abuse of the furlough scheme should inform the Commission. 

Charities should report any allegations from beneficiaries who say they have been abused by staff or volunteers. They should also report any allegations by staff about working conditions during the pandemic. 

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