Daycare centre censured for misusing resources and putting beneficiaries at risk

Independence South West criticised in Charity Commission report

A charity running a daycare and respite centre for severely disabled adults has been misusing charity resources, providing unauthorised benefits to trustees and putting vulnerable beneficiaries at risk of harm, a Charity Commission inquiry has found.

Independence South West was investigated by the commission after the charity’s former chair, who has not been named by the regulator, received two police cautions for fraud by false representation in 2008.

The investigation found that the chair had also been employed as the charity’s chief executive without the required permission from the commission, and the charity had failed to treat the chair’s cautions as a serious matter.

The report says "some of the employees lacked proper training and skills to meet the standards needed, and the chairperson failed to recognise and accept the failings in leadership and management of the organisation".

The charity was also rated as providing a zero star ‘poor’ service in reviews by the Care Quality Commission carried out in February 2009 and August 2009.

The Charity Commission report says the charity did not satisfactorily address the findings of the two CQC reviews and "the trustees did not demonstrate that the Charity Commission’s regulatory advice and guidance was being followed by the trustees".

In December 2009, the commission used its powers to appoint seven new trustees, including a new chair. The former chair resigned from the board and as chief executive.

John Brooks, the new chair of trustees for Independence South West, declined to comment on the negative findings of the report. He said: "It has been investigated and dealt with as required. The new trustees are doing a wonderful job."

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