Audit office given freedom to check charity accounts

The National Audit Office, the body that investigates how public money is spent, is to be given the right to examine charity accounts.

The accounts of all voluntary organisations that receive money from central government, including non-departmental public bodies such as NHS Trusts or development agencies, could be requested by the audit office.

The move comes in response to the Treasury's implementation of the Sharman report into auditing and accountability of central government.

Sharman proposed that public bodies, private companies running government programmes, social landlords and bodies receiving government grants should reveal their accounts on demand by the audit office.

Luke FitzHerbert, researcher at the Directory of Social Change, expressed concern at the change. "I'm surprised that so little interest is being taken in this extension of the Government's powers over even small local charities,

he said.

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