Commission maladministration complaints fall

The number of complaints about Charity Commission maladministration has fallen by nearly a third in the past year, according to the Independent Complaints Reviewer's annual report.

The reviewer, Jodi Berg, received 43 complaints about issues such as discourtesy, excessive delay and poor communication, compared with 60 last year. The actual number of issues dealt with was 177 because people tend to complain about more than one issue at the same time. Only nine of the complaints were upheld.

However, Berg said she was not sure whether the dip in complaints was a good thing. "There are people within government who think it is good to talk about complaints in terms of numbers, but drops could also mean organisations are repressing complaints," she told the commission's board meeting on Wednesday. However, she added that she did not think this was true in the commission's case.

Berg said most complaints came from middle-class people, but that the commission needed to think about the interests of trustees, who did not complain for fear of upsetting the regulator, and other sections of the public didn't have the means to complain.

People were often upset when the commission did not think their issue was important enough to investigate, Berg said, adding: "Arguments about proportionality don't always cut the mustard."

She said people with personal complaints about charities also took them to the commission even though they were beyond its remit, because volunteers and others who felt they had been badly treated "see no other avenue to go down".

She said the commission's new internal complaints guidance, Conflicts in Your Charity, had cut the number of complaints in that area, and she hoped the new CC9 document would also cut complaints about political campaigning.

Berg said she would also be monitoring the impact of public benefit reporting and the establishment of the Charity Tribunal on complaint levels in the coming year.

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