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Complaints against the Charity Commission rose by more than a third this year

The regulator's Annual Complaints Review shows that the proportion fully or partially upheld nearly doubled to 34 per cent

Charity Commission
Charity Commission

The number of complaints made against the Charity Commission in 2013/14 was up by more than a third on the previous year, the regulator's Annual Complaints Review shows.

The report also shows that the proportion of complaints fully or partially upheld nearly doubled, from 19 per cent to 34 per cent.

The commission received 152 complaints in 2013/14, compared with 113 in the previous year.

Of the 152 complaints received, most were resolved simply or immediately but 53 could not be and were therefore classified as stage two complaints. In 2012/13, 57 of the 113 complaints became stage two complaints.

The 53 stage two complaints in 2013/14 contained a total of 76 issues, the commission found, with 53 per cent of those issues being insufficient regulatory intervention, while 24 per cent related to mistakes or unclear or incorrect advice, and 12 per cent involved discourtesy, delay or timeliness.

In the previous year, 65 per cent of stage two complaints involved insufficient intervention. "This movement might be a result of the commission’s renewed emphasis on the need for robust regulation of the charitable sector," the report says.

Fifty of the stage two complaints, or 66 per cent, were found in favour of the commission. In 2012/13, it was 81 per cent. The proportion of those found fully in favour of the complainant (16 per cent) or partially in favour of the complainant (18 per cent) both rose by nearly half.

Of the 26 issues found in the complainants' favour, 12 related to mistakes or unclear or incorrect advice, and only four to insufficient intervention.

Remedies to the complaints included 16 apologies made to complainants, and four occasions when a better explanation was provided to complainants. In 10 cases, further casework was carried out, while in two cases compensation or a "consolatory payment" was offered – but had not been paid out when the report was published.

Individuals not satisfied with the way a complaint has been dealt with can refer it to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

The report says that the PHSO has not yet sent figures to the commission on how many complaints it received in the year, but says that of the two cases the commission knows proceeded to full investigation, both "were completed without finding against the commission".

The commission handles complaints internally except for those handed to the PSHO. Between 2011 and 2013, the commission outsourced this work to two private companies, the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution  and Complaint Handling & Investigation Associates.

The report says: "Year-on-year funding cuts mean that there is an ever-decreasing number of commission staff, but they continue to give our customers a highly professional and effective standard of service despite markedly increasing workloads."

A Charity Commission spokeswoman was unable to comment before publication of the story.

- This story was clarified on 23 June 2014. It originally said that the commission spokeswoman declined to comment.

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