Charities warned not to get caught out by new questions in 2017 annual return - Thorne Widgery

The Charity Commission has reminded charities that the last day to submit their 2017 annual return is 31 October 2018, after warning that thousands of organisations have yet to do so.

The deadline applies if your charity has a 12-month accounting period ending in December.

The regulator warned that not filing on time means that your charity will go into default and the information of which will be displayed to the public on the charity register.
Doing so could reduce public trust and confidence in your charity, the Commission added.

Likewise, charities who are leaving filing their return to the very last minute may not be fully prepared for the new questions included in this year’s form.

The Charity Commission has this year decided to request much more information as a result of research into public trust and confidence in charities.

This includes detailed information about remuneration at charities, especially among an organisation’s most senior figures. Charities will be asked for a breakdown of salaries across income bands and the amount of total employee benefits for the highest paid member of staff.

This year’s return will also ask charities to establish how they transfer and monitor funds overseas and break down the sources of income from each country a charity receives funds from, although these questions are not mandatory until next year.

If this is the first time you are submitting your annual return, or if you need more help answering the new questions, official guidance has been published here.

Commenting on the new annual return, David Holdsworth, Deputy CEO and Registrar at the Charity Commission, said: “The annual return is a vital tool in promoting charities’ accountability to the public, donors and beneficiaries as well as ensuring we have the information we need to be an effective, proportionate, risk-led regulator.

“However, in some important areas, including around executive pay, we will require charities to provide us with more detailed information. We know the public care deeply about transparency in this area, and it is vital that charities, and the Commission as the regulator, respond constructively to these expectations. I am confident our decision in this area strikes the right balance between transparency and protecting the personal data of individual staff members in charities.”