Charity Commission drops strict time limits on completing investigations

Watchdog is now meeting revised performance target

The Charity Commission has dropped a target measuring the length of time it takes to complete inquiry reports.

The ‘KPI 4' indicator previously included a target to complete formal investigations within 275 days. However, the commission board agreed to drop this measure in July, a paper for an open board meeting on November 26 shows.

The change means the commission's compliance division has begun to meet the requirements of the indicator, agreed with the Treasury, now that there is no strict time limit involved.

The new indicator includes "a basket of measures that better reflects the broad range of our compliance activity and focuses on the effectiveness and quality of outcomes as well as the timeliness of investigations," according to the board paper.

Kenneth Dibble, director of legal services at the commission, told the board in September 2008 that it might be impossible for the commission to meet the previous time-limited target if trustees were uncooperative or where the police or courts became involved.

The board meeting will also hear:

  • The number of charities submitting their due documents on time has risen to 81 per cent in the year up to 31 October. The target is 76 per cent.
  • The timetable for registering exempt charities has slipped. The first phase of the programme, which will involve up to 250 educational institutions and student unions with annual incomes of more than £100,000, will now take place early next year. A second phase involving housing associations, further education colleges and charitable industrial and provident societies is scheduled for late 2010. The commission is currently processing 1,400 registration applications from previously excepted charities.
  • The commission will team up with the NCVO to produce guidance for charities with group structures in January. The regulator also hopes to establish a network of such bodies to promote "effective self-regulation".
  • The commission will respond to "renewed political and sectoral interest" in small community-based charities by providing more support for them. The regulator, which produced a small charities constitution last month, hopes to adapt existing guidance, use new technology and work with external partners to engage with small charities.
  • The commission aims to update its Charities & Elections guidance ahead of the forthcoming general election. The updated document, which will be launched in February, will be based on questions submitted by a small focus group of charities.
  • The commission has written to 800 professional advisers encouraging them to communicate with it electronically. A quarter of all paper correspondence the regulator receives is sent by solicitors, accountants and auditors. Email is a "faster, cheaper solution to serving their clients", according to the commission.

 

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