Acevo backs Hodgson's recommendation to fine charities that file their accounts late

Ralph Michell, director of policy at Acevo, says it would urge that proceeds of the fines go to the Charity Commission

Ralph Michell
Ralph Michell

The chief executives body Acevo has welcomed Lord Hodgson’s suggestion that charities that file their accounts late should be fined.

The Conservative peer this morning published the report into his review of the Charities Act 2006, which recommends that the government and the Charity Commission "give thought to the costs, benefits and logistics" of introducing fines for charities that fail to file their accounts on time. It also suggests that Gift Aid should be withdrawn from those charities.

In response to the suggestions, Ralph Michell, director of policy at Acevo, said: "It’s only fair that charities that file their accounts late should pay some form of penalty fine.

"It must, however, be proportionate and we would urge that proceeds go to the Charity Commission to help better regulate the sector rather than to the Treasury."

But Caron Bradshaw, chief executive of the Charity Finance Group, said the proposal was "impractical and unsuitable, and is unlikely to work effectively within the current system given the communication lag between the Charity Commission and HM Revenue & Customs".

Bradshaw said she welcomed suggestions to streamline the reporting processes for charities and the report’s focus on developing social investment, but said the CFG was "firmly against" a suggestion that the Charity Commission should consider charging for filing and registration services. She said: "It should remain funded by government given the public duty nature of its work."

Joe Irvin, chief executive of the local infrastructure body Navca, said he was also against the idea of charging for filing and registration.

"If these charges are substantial it will hold back the development of new charities supporting emerging needs – the new lifeblood of civil society," he said.

Irvin also said the government should "pause for thought" at the suggestion to increase the income threshold for compulsory registration with the Charity Commission from £5,000 to £25,000 a year and said he was against paying trustees.

David Emerson, chief executive of the Association of Charitable Foundations, said he was concerned about the proposal to charge for registration services.

"If charges are introduced, my fear is that they will reduce the resources charities make available to frontline delivery, and could hit small charities hardest," he said.

He said overall he welcomed the "general thrust" of the recommendations that would give more explicit discretion to trustees to use money and land to deliver their charitable goals as they see fit".

Peter Holbrook, chief executive of Social Enterprise UK, and Jonathan Jenkins, chief executive of the Social Investment Business, both welcomed Hodgson’s call to amend the Financial Services Bill to better recognise social investment.

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