FINANCE NEWS: Government raises limit for account audit

Mathew Little

The Government has ruled that charities with income of less than £500,000 will no longer need to have their accounts professionally audited.

The change, which will be implemented by legislation, raises the current threshold of £250,000.

But it represents a modification of the Government's original plans to waive the legal obligation for professional audits from charities with annual income below £1 million.

The reform will be one of many changes to charity law which were published last week by the Home Office, in a wide-ranging response to last year's Private Action, Public Benefit report, which was opened to consultation with the charity sector.

Most respondents to the consultation said that the current rules were too complicated and imposed an audit requirement at too low a level.

But there was also concern that it would reduce the accountability of medium-sized charities and could lead to fraud.

The Government decided to implement a more modest rise in the threshold than first proposed. Charities below the threshold will still have to have their accounts independently examined.

Murtaza Jessa, charities partner with accountants Trustient, welcomed the increase, dubbing the £250,000 level "anachronistic".

He said: "Many charities below the threshold will continue to have audits because trustees need control and a comfort zone, and because many donors require it."

- See News Analysis p12 & Editorial p17.

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