Charity Commission plans to highlight charities with qualified accounts on its register

William Shawcross, chair of the commission, says the public should be able to see whether a charity's accounts have been questioned by an independent assessor

William Shawcross
William Shawcross

The Charity Commission intends to use its online charity register to highlight entries for charities that have had their accounts qualified.

In a speech to the Charity Law Association in London this morning, the commission's chair, William Shawcross, said the commission wanted to get tougher on monitoring charity accounts. He said it would mark "qualified accounts against a charity’s entry on the online register".

The commission already places a red border around a charity’s entry on the online register if the organisation’s accounts are overdue. But in future, Shawcross said, the regulator would also highlight qualified accounts.

Accounts are qualified when an auditor has reservations about aspects of the accounts, including those that are filed on time, and makes a note to this effect.

"The public should be able to see at a glance that a charity’s accounts have been questioned by an independent assessor," Shawcross said.

Qualification can be for something straightforward, such as failing to properly account for depreciation of a charity’s property, as well as more serious cases of suspected fraud or mismanagement.

Shawcross said that the commission proposed to state on each entry whether or not the charity was a member of the Fundraising Standards Board.

"We know the public cares about the way in which charities fundraise, and this will encourage high fundraising standards," he said.

He said that membership of the FRSB showed charities were committed to good practice and that the commission encouraged them to join.

Shawcross said the commission should act swiftly when there were concerns that charities were being misused. 

"During my time as chairman, the commission will concentrate on this work, including through our contribution to the government’s extremism taskforce, which was set up after the horrific murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich in May," he said.

"I am very glad that we have on our new board Peter Clarke, who is the former head of Counter Terrorism at the Metropolitan Police. His experience and wisdom are vital in this dangerous, shifting terrain."

Shawcross repeated recent comments by saying that he was determined the commission should be "the policeman of charities", but he did not want the regulator to "become the Stasi of the charitable world".

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