Charities reported a 4.4 per cent increase in their income in accounts submitted in the year to March 2013, according to an analysis of the Charity Commission’s latest data.
The Charity Commission publishes financial data every quarter based on all accounts filed with it during the past year. Those accounts will mostly cover the period to December 2011 and March 2012.
An analysis of the latest data by Chris Harris, a partner at the accountancy firm MHA MacIntyre Hudson, found that income reported in accounts submitted in the year to March 2013 rose by £2.5bn, or 4.4 per cent, to £59.9bn compared with the previous year.
Retail price index inflation over the period to March 2012 was 3.6 per cent, suggesting that the income of charities on the register rose by 0.8 per cent in real terms.
But Harris said the data might be skewed by new charities filing their accounts for the first time. "We’ve seen universities come onto the register in recent years," he said. "We’ve also seen the creation of large new charities that were previously government bodies. We don’t know how that might affect the total."
Income from charitable activity among those who filed their accounts rose by 1.9 per cent, to £31.5bn, and voluntary income rose by 5 per cent to £18.9bn. Investment income rose by 13 per cent to £3.3bn, and trading income rose by 10.5 per cent to £4.6bn.
Harris said: "The interesting thing this time is that the biggest share of the increase came from voluntary income. That’s not what you would expect. It’s charitable activity – largely contracts, in other words – that has increased least. In fact, it’s fallen in real terms."
Total expenditure rose by 4.7 per cent to £57.63bn, of which £6.6bn was spent on income generation and £51bn was charitable spending, the figures show.