The Charity Commission has apologised for delays to its charity registration services because of "extremely high demand" and a record number of new charity applications.
In a notice published on its website yesterday, the commission said that new applications to register as a charity might have to wait up to 12 weeks before receiving a response.
It said that because of "limited resources" the commission would be unable to provide updates for individual applications during the registration process.
The Charity Commission has had its budget frozen at £20m until 2020 and has seen its funding cut by £8m since 2010, despite the number of registered charities increasing in recent years.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said there were 8,368 applications to register a charity in 2016/17, compared with 5,949 in 2012/13, and numbers were continuing to rise.
A 10 per cent increase in the number of applications for charitable incorporated organisation status was also having an effect, the spokeswoman said.
"Our new automated service has helped us speed up the registration process and reduce the average time it takes to register a charity by three working days, despite the fact that we are registering 17 per cent more charities than in the previous year," the spokeswoman said.
"However, the continued substantial increase in the volume of applications combined with the commission’s stretched resources means that we are currently experiencing delays in dealing with new registration applications.
"We appreciate that the additional time it is currently taking to process applications will be frustrating, but we are committed to dealing with each registration application in a considered, robust and fair way."
The spokeswoman said the commission had restructured its registration team to help deal with the additional demand, and the regulator hoped to clear the excess unallocated cases and return to its standard registration response times within the next two to three months.
The commission’s announcement said it was advising registration applicants to submit full and complete applications well in advance of any deadlines, and to notify the commission of any upcoming, specific deadlines in the special circumstances section of the online registration form.
In the past year, a number of charity sector bodies have called on the government to provide more funding for the Charity Commission to ensure it can fulfil its role as both a regulator and an adviser to the sector.
The commission is expected to launch a consultation on charging charities to fund the regulator in the near future.