Inquiry into charity that has filed its accounts late every year since 2017

The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into a community centre that has submitted its accounts late for every year since 2017.

The Shire Way Community Association, which runs a community centre in Yate, Bristol, and provides recreational facilities for the inhabitants of the surrounding areas, has not yet filed its accounts for the year to 31 December 2020, which were due on 31 October 2021.

It was previously part of the regulator’s “double defaulters” class inquiry, which includes charities that have failed to file accounts on time for two consecutive years, over delays in submitting returns for the charity’s 2018 and 2019 financial years.

The charity, which was registered with the commission in 1981, had an income of £95,000 and spent £106,000 in 2019, accounts show.

In a statement, the commission said it had also found evidence that the charity had paid out wages – despite its 2019 accounts stating it had no employees.

There were also questions about the identity of the charity’s trustees, the commission said.

The commission said it had launched its inquiry on 13 January and would examine whether trustees had complied with their legal obligations around the charity’s accounts, whether the charity had enough trustees and whether those trustees had responsibly managed the charity’s resources.

A spokesman for the charity told Third Sector: “Our returns are late due to the pandemic and not having any staff or volunteers to help.

“From our point of view it’s a shame that there’s no leeway due to Covid-19 when we have been shut for two years.

“We intend to co-operate with the commission and we look forward to showing them all the good work we have done and plan to continue doing for another 40 years.”

Charities have 10 months from the end of their financial year to file the accounts for that year.

In March 2020, the Charity Commission announced it would grant deadline extensions to any charities that needed extra time to file accounts as a result of the pandemic, but this policy ended in October last year.

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