A lack of training 'is causing chaos'

Charitable donations are being wasted or stolen because small charities don't have basic accountancy skills, according to a voluntary sector financial adviser.

Tom Fitch, chief executive of Cash, which provides accountancy training to small voluntary organisations, claimed that up to 35,000 charities were in "financial chaos".

Fitch was responding to last week's news that the Charity Commission blamed poor accounting for most charity malpractice. He said the main reason for bad accounting was lack of training. "Public and charity money is being wasted and stolen because of a lack of low level accountancy training for the sector," he said.

"It is a complete scandal and shows that both charity and government elites are totally out of touch with small urban and rural charities."

Fitch said the Government should fund a National Vocational Qualification in charity accountancy.

"More government money is spent on training hairdressers than on training charity book-keepers and treasurers in the complex regulations the Government has adopted for the sector," he said.

David Tyler, chief executive of community sector umbrella body Community Matters, supported Fitch's claims. "There has been a very strong downward trend in the skills of small charities in managing money," he said.

"It's very difficult reaching some of these people. Their motivation isn't to learn about money; it's to help out their local voluntary or community organisation. In our experience, persuading them that they need training in anything at all is quite difficult."

A spokesman for the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills said accountancy NVQs were available under the Government's Train to Gain initiative, which helps employers across all sectors to improve staff skills.

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