Whistleblowing reports to the Charity Commission rise 

11 Jul 2023 News

Whistleblowing reports to the Charity Commission have risen by more than 16%, according to the regulator’s latest annual report and accounts. 

In the year to March 2023, the Commission received 327 whistleblowing reports compared to 281 in 2021-22. This is however lower than the 434 reported in 2020-21.

It assessed 2,969 new serious incident reports compared to 3,451 in 2021-22, the third successive annual decline.

The Commission reported that public trust in charities has risen slightly since last year, with the sector’s income increasing to £88bn in 2022-23.

Meanwhile, the regulator said it faced recruitment challenges, despite a decline in the proportion of staff leaving the organisation during the year. 

More investigations

During the financial year, the Commission regulated £88bn of charity income, up from £83.8bn the year prior.

There were 168,893 charities on the register, and the Commission removed 4,146 charities in the year, compared to 5,252 the year prior.

The regulator received 8,583 applications to register as a charity, compared to 8,005 the year prior. On average, 48% of applications resulted in successful registrations of new charities (52% in 2021-22).

The total number of trustee positions was 921,862, compared to 927,688.

In 2022-23, the Commission concluded 5,726 regulatory action cases, up from 5,324 in 2021-22. Of these, 68 were statutory inquiries.

This compares to 45 statutory inquiries concluded in 2021-22, “with the higher rate of closure due to our focus on bringing to close some of our most long-running inquiries”.

The regulator opened 72 new inquiries this year, compared to 49 in 2021-22, and “a significant factor in the increase in the number of inquiries opened is the number of double defaulting charities”. This is in addition to an increase in inquiries being opened in response to charities linked to individuals sanctioned in respect of the Russia sanctions regulations.
In 2022-23, the Commission revitalised 203 charities in England and 86 in Wales. It supported the repurposing of £25m of charitable funds in England and £4.6m of charitable funds in Wales.

Trust in charities rises

In 2023, overall trust and confidence in charities among the public rose to 6.3 out of 10, compared to 6.2 in 2022. 

“Our research shows that this is against a background of declining trust in many social institutions, by comparison to which, trust in charities appears to have stabilised and improved – having significantly recovered from a low point in 2018,” the report says.

“Charities remain the second most trusted social institution in the survey (with doctors being the most trusted).”

In 2023, over three-quarters of the public thought that a charity is more likely to be making an impact, ensuring that a high proportion of donations are spent directly on the cause, and operating ethically if it is registered and regulated by the Charity Commission. 

This is a slight increase on last year, but responses have remained broadly consistent over the last four years.

In 2023, 48% of the public said that they had heard of the Charity Commission and 17% said they knew it very or fairly well. This compares with 50% and 18% in 2022.

Meanwhile, the proportion of trustees surveyed in 2023 who were confident in the Commission dealing with instances of wrongdoing and harm effectively increased to 95% from 94% in 2022.

The proportion of trustees who said they were confident in the Commission’s ability to uncover wrongdoing and harm in the first place increased from 86% in 2022 to 87% in 2023.

“Our research suggests that, over the last four years, trustees have become more confident in the Commission’s ability both to uncover and to deal with wrongdoing,” the report says.

Fewer staff leaving the regulator 

The Commission said staff leaving the organisation “remains an issue for us”, with some taking industrial action in March this year.

It had 511 staff on payroll as of 31 March 2023, while its gender pay gap for 2022 was 2.8%, which is unchanged from 2021.

“Our attrition figure showed a steady decline across the whole organisation over the year from 19% down to 13%, mainly attributable to better retention as filling some specialist vacancies is still a challenge in the difficult recruitment market,” its report says.

In 2022-23, the Commission’s revenue budget was £32.3m of which it spent £32.1m. The resource accounts report a revenue underspend of £259,000, which amounts to 0.8% of the net annual budget.

This “reflects the tight margins under which the Commission operates in order to maximise resource utilisation”, it says.

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