The Charity Commission has changed the way it deals with charities it is monitoring, resulting in a sharp drop in the number of monitoring cases it has reported.
The regulator was responding to a request by Third Sector under the Freedom of Information Act about the number of monitoring cases it handled over the past five years.
Monitoring involves activities such as scrutinising a charity’s accounts or meeting trustees to ensure they have complied with regulatory advice.
In its response, the commission said the number of monitoring cases opened was:
A spokeswoman for the commission said the figures for the past two years were not comparable to the figures for 2008/09 to 2010/11 because of a change in the way it handled such cases.
She said responsibility for monitoring cases had passed from the old Compliance Monitoring Unit to a team in the Investigation and Enforcement Unit at the end of 2010/11, when there was a sharp fall in the number of cases reported.
She said monitoring work "can be conducted by either the monitoring team that is part of the Investigation and Enforcement Unit or within operations teams".
The number of monitoring cases reported by the commission for 2011/12 and 2012/13 were cases that were dealt with by the monitoring team in the Investigation and Enforcement Unit, and do not include the number of cases being investigated by the commission’s operations teams that contain "a monitoring element", the regulator’s spokeswoman said.
"The figures exclude the monitoring work conducted by the operations teams and do not tell the full story," she said. It was not possible to quantify monitoring work by the teams, she added.According to the commission’s website, the monitoring team works with charities "where there are concerns relating to serious non-compliance, or where it is believed that there is a significant risk of serious non-compliance within a charity or class of charities".
In 2012/13, 1,232 operational compliance cases were closed by the commission, the spokeswoman said, but not all of these would have contained a monitoring element.