The Charity Commission has named the 12 charities that are subject to a "class inquiry" after they failed to file annual documents for two years or more.
The charities include three that list Bournemouth Borough Council as a trustee.
The regulator said in a statement before the Charity Commission’s annual public meeting on 26 September that it had opened a "class inquiry" into the 12 charities, each of which had a last-known annual income of £500,000 or more, because they were "in default of their statutory obligations to meet reporting requirements by failing to file their annual documents for two or more years in the last five years".
The 12 charities were named at the meeting in London yesterday.
Three charities – the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, which runs a gallery from a listed building in Bournemouth, Dorset, and two charities that oversee public land in the Bournemouth area – have Bournemouth Borough Council as either their sole trustee or as one of a small group of trustees.
A spokeswoman for Bournemouth Borough Council, which is the corporate trustee of the museum, said the council had agreed with the commission to file accounts for the three charities on 30 September.
Among the 12, the charity with the highest reported income is the Achiezer Association, which makes grants to people in need and had an income of just under £1.9m in the year to 30 September 2010. It filed its accounts for 2009/10 on 12 September, more than 750 days late, and has not filed any more recent accounts.
Bradford Christian School, a fee-paying school in Bradford, had an income of £535,128 in 2009/10, the last year in which it filed accounts with the commission. The charity has not filed annual accounts or annual returns with the regulator for 2010/11 or 2011/12.
Andrew Parker, chair of Bradford Christian School, said he did not want to comment on the commission’s inquiry.
The Grace Church Christian Centre in White Cross, Hereford, was named on the list – the commission’s website says it has accounts overdue for each of the past five financial years. Its documents for 2007/08 are 1,700 days late, according to the Charity Commission site.
But a spokeswoman for the commission said today that the church had filed its accounts on 26 September and the charity has therefore been removed from the inquiry.
Neville Brownlee, head of first contact at the commission, said at the meeting that a "great many" of the charities involved were making the effort to file their missing documents. "Some have partially filed," he said. "However, we need all to file."
Brownlee said that when the commission contacted charities that had failed to file with a "final warning" before the inquiry, some were quick to respond and seven charities filed their missing documents before the inquiry was opened.
"We think within about 25 minutes of one phone call, the information pinged in over the internet," Brownlee said.
But he said some charities that had been contacted by the commission were less interested in complying. "There was a group that, basically, were not interested," said Brownlee. "We had some quite surprising responses, along the lines of: ‘I know it’s a criminal offence; I know we haven’t done it and I’m busy or the treasurer only works Saturday.’ Some quite complacent responses."
Brownlee said the commission was working closely with HM Revenue & Customs on the inquiry, which would remain open to include other charities that are found not to have complied.
He said the next group of charities to be looked at would be those with annual incomes of £25,000 and above. AFter that review, the commission would look at smaller charities, he said.
The charities named yesterday are:
- The Achiezer Association
- Beighton Welfare Recreation Ground
- Bradford Christian School
- The Bridge (Oxford)
- The Five Parks, Bournemouth, ie Kings, Queens, Meyrick and Redhill Parks and Sealfield Gardens
- Grace Church Christian Centre (since removed from the inquiry)
- Lower Central Gardens Bournemouth
- The Society of Friends of the Torah
- The Yad Vochessed Association.