Commission praised for red borders system

Highlighting charities that file their accounts late works well, says report

The Charity Commission's practice of putting a red border round the online register page of charities that submit their accounts late has been praised by regulation experts.

The comments came in a Hampton Implementation Review report published last Friday. HIR reviews are carried out by the Better Regulation Executive, part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. They assess how well regulators measure up to principles of modern, proportionate regulation.

The review, carried out in December and January, praises the commission's use of green and red borders on its online register to highlight whether charities have submitted their latest documents on time. It says it is "a successful example of using an alternative to formal sanctions to achieve regulatory aims".

The review found that the commission made "impressive and innovative use of technology" when collecting and communicating charity data. 

It also commends the commission for the transparency of its approach to enforcement and for considering financial costs and benefits as well as the impact on public confidence when it decides what to investigate.

However, it says some commission guidance still looks and feels "legalistic and lengthy" and could alienate small charities and individual trustees. The commission should consider adopting a new performance indicator measuring its contribution to improving charities' understanding of charity law, it adds.

It also says the commission should consider scrapping the Summary Information Return, which charities with annual incomes of more than £1m have to fill in.

Most of the information is already submitted in trustees' annual reports and there is no evidence that funders or charities use SIRs to inform their behaviour, the report says.

Rosie Chapman, executive director for policy and effectiveness at the commission, said: "The review gave the commission a good opportunity to test its progress and development plans against the BRE's standards. We will be reviewing the report's recommendations to see how best we can take them forward."


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