Hot issue: Is it fair for the commission to highlight accounts filed late?

The Charity Commission has launched a controversial new system that highlights charities that file their accounts late with red borders on its website.

YES - Sheila Birch, head of information compliance, Charity Commission

The register does not seek to name and shame charities. Charities are expected to be transparent and accountable to their donors, their beneficiaries and the wider public. This accountability takes the form of accounts and an annual return that charities with incomes in excess of £10,000 are required to submit to the commission within 10 months of their financial year-end.

The register has always provided information about whether charities have filed their accounts on time; the use of red and green banners simply makes it clearer. We work with charities to help them meet their reporting requirements, to offer advice and guidance on what is required and to guide them through how to use our online service. We routinely remind charities when their deadlines are approaching.

It is essential that we all work together to drive up public trust and confidence in charities; those that consistently fail to file on time could be damaging trust in the sector as a whole. It is in all our interests to get charities out of the red and into the green.

NO - Neil Cleeveley, director of policy and communications, National Association for Voluntary and Community Action

Navca is absolutely clear that individuals and groups should always comply with the law. We would like to see greater consultation with local charities and more support to ensure that they comply with the law. This would be fairer: it would give charities the opportunity to explain the reasons why they have failed to submit documents, and any action taken against them would be proportionate.

There is a whiff of summary justice about the actions of the Charity Commission. It is a bit like a modern-day version of the stocks.

What a lot of small local organisations tell us they need is a little bit more help and encouragement rather than this sort of punishment from the commission. Navca believes this approach would be better for local charities and would get better results for the commission. In the past when we have met with the commission, it has sought to assure us that there is no intention to publicly shame charities. It is difficult to see how this can be seen in any other way.

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