Whistleblower disclosures to Charity Commission rise 75%

30 Sep 2021 News

The number of whistleblowing disclosures made to the Charity Commission jumped by 75% last year, according to figures released today.

The Commission published this year's whistleblowing report this morning. The data shows that whistleblowers made 431 reports to the Commission in 2020-21, up from 247 last year.

Based on disclosures this year, the regulator recorded 792 separate incidents related to safeguarding, financial controls and other issues.

The majority of disclosures were made by either current or former charity staff, while one in five reports came from trustees.

Governance, safeguarding, finances

The largest number of cases raised by whistleblowers covered governance failures and other poor behaviour at charities (32%), followed by safeguarding (29%) and the risk of financial harm including fraud (28%).

The Commission pointed out that safeguarding and governance questions can often overlap, with governance issues potentially acting as “significant contributory factors” to concerns around safety for staff, volunteers and beneficiaries.

There were 120 whistleblowing disclosures by staff about the charity where they worked, and 99 by former staff.

Trustees made 46 disclosures and former trustees made 44. The Commission received five whistleblowing reports from government departments, all related to charities’ finances.

The Commission said that it had “dealt with and closed” around three-quarters of these cases by the end of the year, and took regulatory action in the majority.

In 55 cases it was decided that there was no need for any further action. 

New policies

The regulator said in a statement that its approach to whistleblowing has “evolved” since piloting new policies in 2019.

It said: “Our policy of offering to speak directly with each whistleblower on receipt of their disclosure is now a key part of our assessment function. 

“Used as a standard approach, this allows us to better identify and investigate wrongdoing and potential misconduct and mismanagement in the administration of charities. 

“We are confident that this has improved our approach to whistleblowing disclosures.”

The number of disclosures has grown every year since the Commission started recording them in 2016.

The data shows that the Commission responded to whistleblower disclosures within 10 days in 90% cases.

The Charity Finance Summit returns on the 7 October. The 2021 programme has been developed in response to feedback and insight from sector experts, and will deliver the most up-to-date developments in key topic areas of VAT, tax, investment, risk and strategy, alongside long-awaited networking opportunities. View the programme and book online.


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