Finance: SIRs published on commission site

Summary Information Returns, the compulsory guides to the aims and activities of charities with incomes above £1m, have been made available to the public on the Charity Commission's website for the first time.

There are more than 700 SIRs on the site, but the regulator says the number will grow to more than 3,500 when all returns are in.

Rosie Chapman, director of policy and effectiveness at the commission, said: "The SIR was created as a tool for charities to highlight their achievements and activities as well as to meet growing demands for accountability.

This easy-access route to viewing SIRs under one roof gets their message across directly to funders, supporters, potential donors and everyone with an interest in charity. I'd encourage charities to see their SIRs as an opportunity to tell their stories."

But the NCVO criticised the current form of the SIR. "It does not appear to be more accessible or better suited to the public's needs than existing reports," said Campbell Robb, director of public policy at the NCVO. "It is too prescriptive to engage people with a general interest, but it is unlikely to provide enough detail for potential donors or investors wanting to make informed decisions about giving. To produce a document that is meaningful, there must be much greater clarity about its purpose and intended audience."

KEY POINTS

- SIRs, or Summary Information Returns, are being published on the Charity Commission's website

- The commission expects that the number of SIRs on the site will grow from the current total of 700 to 3,500

- The NCVO has hit out at the SIR, arguing that it is no more accessible than existing reports.

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