The independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, the Charity Commission, has updated the annual return form for 2014 which is now available to complete in an online format via the Commission’s website. The form is accompanied by new guidance to help those completing it.
It must be completed by all registered charities with an income over £10,000 within 10 months of their financial year end. The information is then used to update the profile which appears on the online register of charities.
The regulator upholds that updating this annual form is important because it is a key tool for the Charity Commission when informing its regulatory approach, in promoting good governance and ensuring that charities remain accountable to the public.
The form was updated by the regulator following a consultation in 2013 about the information that should be collected and displayed on the register of charities. The updates to the form include a number of new question areas, among them:
- Whether the charity pays its trustees
- Whether it raises money from the public
- Whether it owns a trading subsidiary
Since the consultation, the Commission has identified more information to be collected and displayed as part of its stricter approach to the scrutiny of charity accounts, which includes asking whether charities accounts have been qualified by an auditor or independent examiner.
Other information about charities to be published includes whether the charity is a member of the Fundraising Standards Board and whether it is insolvent, in administration or subject to enforcement action for non-submission of accounts.
Chief Executive of the Charity Commission, Sam Younger said: “The changes to the annual return and register are being introduced in order to better serve our regulatory work and the public’s interest in charities. The carefully considered changes mean that the extra information collected and displayed will be valuable in both promoting the compliance of the sector and in helping the public to make informed decisions about charities.
“In revising the annual return we have to balance our need to collect this information with ensuring that we do not over burden charities and that we take account of any changes to charity law or reporting frameworks. For example, the ending of the summary information return is a significant development which recognises the changes to the charity law framework that have occurred since it was first introduced. The information that charities submit in their annual return helps to support the public trust and confidence in charities, both through increased transparency and by enabling the Commission to better regulate the charity sector.”
At Nicklin, we have many years’ experience in working with charities and can advise on a range of topics including the latest regulatory changes to the annual return form and how the changes affect charities going forward. For more information, please contact us.