The Charity Commission is following through on its threat to crack down on trustees that fail to submit their charity’s accounts on time. The regulator issued its first official warning to a charity this July, and has since opened investigations into other organisations.
“I don’t have access to the internet”, “My boot came open on the motorway and the papers went down the M1” and “I already did it last year” are just some of the reasons charities have given to the Charity Commission for not filing their accounts. But the watchdog has decided enough is enough and is coming down hard on repeat offenders.
All charitable incorporated organisations and all other registered charities with an income of more than £25,000 must file their annual report and accounts within 10 months of their financial year end. Trustees that don’t comply are not meeting their legal obligations.
The Charity Commission launched a class inquiry into repeat defaulters back in 2013, and numerous charities have come under scrutiny over the last few years. One of the charities under investigation is Christian organisation Kingdom Life Ministries. The London-based charity did not submit the required accounting information for 2013/2014 or 2014/2015. Once included in the class inquiry, Kingdom Life Ministries did eventually file their overdue accounting documents. However, they failed to provide the required information for the financial year ending 2016. As a result, the Charity Commission is now examining the trustees’ behaviour in greater detail, particularly with regards to preparing and filing accounts and other statutory information.
Following the annual review of charity accounts, Nigel Davies, head of accountancy services at the Charity Commission for England and Wales, said, “It is concerning that the underlying attitude to compliance on basic duties and accountability to donors and the public remains poor … We will take robust action to tackle non-compliance so that charity funds are declared and accounted for on the register of charities.”
Trustees usually aren’t accounting experts, so it’s perhaps no wonder that they can find it difficult to meet their legal obligations. Just learning the terminology and figuring out exactly what’s required can be tricky. Working with an accountant can certainly help, but not all accountancy firms are experts in dealing with the specific rules charities have to meet.
At Griffin, we understand the complexities of charity accounting, so can keep you out of the Charity Commission’s bad books. Find out more about the bespoke services we offer for charities, or give us a call so we can discuss how we can help. Our aim is to take the burden off you, so you can get back to doing what you do best – running your charity.