Hospice charity probed for a second time amid fundraising concerns

But the chief executive of Hospice Aid UK says the new inquiry is based on inaccurate accounts supplied to the regulator and it will be making a complaint

The Charity Commission has opened an inquiry into Hospice Aid UK, three years after concluding a similar inquiry into the charity over the lack of fundraising income that went to the end cause.

But the charity’s chief executive said the inquiry was based on "inaccurate" accounts sent to the commission and the charity would be making a formal complaint about the regulator.

The commission said yesterday that it was launching the latest inquiry to look into issues such as the proportion of the charity’s income that was applied for exclusively charitable purposes.

It will also look at the charity’s fundraising arrangements, the regulator said, and the extent to which they were monitored and managed by the trustees.

The solvency and financial viability of Hospice Aid UK will also form part of the inquiry.

The accounts for the charity for the year to 31 March 2018 show that it received £372,536 in donations, but gave only £7,393 to 11 hospices, a sum that was nevertheless an increase on the £2,700 given to two hospices in 2016/17.

A previous statutory inquiry into Hospice Aid UK was concluded on 21 December 2016. The inquiry report suggested the trustees had entered into fundraising activities that were not in the best interests of the charity.

The charity had been in a relationship with the direct marketing agency Euro DM. Only 6 per cent of donations to the charity actually went to the end cause as a result of the agreement with the firm.

The 2017/18 accounts show £317,788 was paid to Euro DM that year.

The 2016 inquiry report said the public were misled into thinking much more money would reach hospices than actually did because of the terms of the agreement and the lack of transparency about the costs and fees taken from donations.

According to that report, even money that did reach the charity was subject to high administration and governance costs "such that in some years barely anything was available to support hospices and their work".

Jo Gratze, chief executive of Hospice Aid UK, said the charity had challenged the premise of the latest inquiry because the accounts previously filed by the charity’s auditors were "inaccurate" and the correct accounts were now with the regulator.

Gratze said the new accounts, which were not yet publicly available, would "show no irregularities" and the charity was in a strong financial position. 

"HAUK will now be making a formal complaint against the Charity Commission for not considering the revised accounts when deciding to open the inquiry and issue its press release," said Gratze.

"The Charity Commission has ignored the significant improvements in governance and the financial progress made by HAUK over the past few years.

"A major fundraising event is planned by HAUK for the end of this month. This inquiry will cause considerable distraction from and disruption to this, as well as damage to the charity’s reputation, at a time when it is preparing to increase charitable activities to support those most in need of its assistance."

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