Disability charity changes governing document after regulator intervenes

The Charity Commission publishes its report on its investigation into the Camphill Village Trust after a whistle-blower raised concerns about one of its communities

A community run by the Camphill Village Trust
A community run by the Camphill Village Trust

A charity that manages nine communities for people with disabilities in England and Wales has amended its governing document and the way in which it pays benefits after intervention from the Charity Commission.

There must now be a majority of independent trustees on the board of the Camphill Village Trust, and all volunteers living alongside its beneficiaries at the communities must sign up to its safeguarding rules and regulations, according to a report published today.

The regulator opened an operational compliance case on the charity in 2012 after it was contacted by a whistle-blower who raised concerns about the level of benefits received by volunteers, known as co-workers, at one of its communities, which is not named.  

The whistle-blower filed "a number of serious incident reports", says the report. Benefits received by co-workers are "significant" because they do not receive a salary, the report says.

The regulator uncovered further concerns, including of a "lack of proper control by the trustee body and inadequacy of the record keeping for benefits received by co-workers", the report says.

The commission heard that the charity as a whole had no written policy about co-worker benefits, and that the chair was concerned that trustees and senior management "had not felt able to address the concerns due to the influence exercised by co-workers, who they felt did not recognise the need for change".

The commission said that issues needing to be addressed included the questions of benefits, safeguarding of vulnerable beneficiaries, risk to the charity’s financial future, its "lack of adequate accounting and financial reporting", and barriers to both proper management of conflicts of interest and oversight by independent trustees.

Nobody in the charity’s press office was available for comment this morning.

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