Coronavirus: Regulator says charities can request additional time for annual returns

The Charity Commission has said it will consider granting an extension to any charity that is struggling to file its annual return because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The regulator said in a statement that it wanted charities to be reassured its approach to regulation would be “as flexible and supportive as possible”. 

It said: “Charities’ primary interest, and ours, must be looking after the public and the communities that we serve. 

“Charities can feel confident that we will, where possible, act in a pragmatic way by taking account of the wider public interest during this unprecedented period.”

The regulator said that, as an immediate step, charities that were due to file annual returns imminently but felt unable to do so, could ask for filing extensions. 

A commission spokeswoman said decisions on requests for filing extensions would be made on a case-by-case basis.

"The position is that we will be flexible and pragmatic during this unprecedented crisis," she said. 

The commission’s position on the coronavirus has developed rapidly in recent days. 

It was criticised on social media last week after it said that charities severely affected by the coronavirus outbreak might need to file serious incident reports only to subsequently admit that the statement was “not as helpful as we would have liked”.

On Friday, a spokeswoman for the regulator told Third Sector that charities must file their accounts on time. 

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