Coronavirus: Regulator withdraws advice that was 'not as helpful as we would have liked'

The Charity Commission has withdrawn advice it provided to charities about reporting incidents relating to the coronavirus pandemic after concluding it “was not as helpful as we would have liked”. 

A statement from the regulator saying charities should file serious incident reports if the outbreak resulted in circumstances that had a significant impact on them was heavily criticised by voluntary sector figures yesterday. 

Duncan Shrubsole, director of policy and communications at the Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales, said on Twitter the advice was “particularly crass and unhelpful”, while others said the regulator was piling additional reporting burdens onto charities at an already difficult time. 

Rob Williamson, chief executive of the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, said the voluntary sector should notify a “collective serious incident occurring today at our regulator as evidenced by its bizarre communication about Covid-19”. 

Karl Wilding, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said he planned to speak to Charity Commission officials about the statement after being contacted by a number of concerned charities. 

The commission has since updated its statement, saying it had received “many enquiries” about the serious incident reporting process

“Unfortunately, our initial response was not as helpful as we would have liked,” it said. 

“Therefore, we would like to clarify that charities should continue to report serious incidents using the current guidelines and their own judgement and we will advise if and when this situation changes.”

The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator has also issued an update on the coronavirus situation

It says charities should report issues that have a significantly negative impact on them, but adds: “However, don’t worry. Reporting does not need to be at the very top of your list. 

“Making sure you have the time and space with your fellow trustees to make the right decisions for your organisation is the main thing to be thinking about.”

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