Large rise in number of small charities leaving the register

Almost 1,000 more small charities left the Charity Commission's register in 2018 than did so in 2016

Small charities: under financial pressure
Small charities: under financial pressure

The number of small charities that disappear from the register of charities has dramatically increased in the past three years, Third Sector has discovered.

A request to the Charity Commission under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that almost 1,000 more charities in England and Wales with annual incomes of less than £1.5m left the register in 2018 than did so in 2016.

The Small Charities Coalition said economic uncertainty could be forcing smaller organisations to close.

The figures from the regulator showed that, in 2016, 3,856 charities with incomes of less than £1.5m left the register, while 4,069 left in 2017 and 4,783 left in 2018 – an increase of more than 24 per cent over the three-year period.

Angela Style, interim chief executive of the SCC, told Third Sector: "It's not surprising that there is an increase in the number of small charities that are struggling to survive in 2019."

She said research by the Institute for Voluntary Action Research and the Lloyds Bank Foundation showed that, in 2014/15, the economic footprint of small and medium charities was £7.2bn.

But she added: "We also know it's a particularly turbulent economic period for small charities, which are predominantly volunteer-led and largely dependent on individual donors."

Style said small charities were vital to communities across the country and beyond. "We think it's important that the public, funders and the wider sector continue to recognise both their social and economic value," she said.

David Holdsworth, deputy chief executive and registrar of the Charity Commission, said the increased number disappearing from the register had been due in part to a proactive effort by the regulator to remove charities that no longer appeared to be in operation in 2018, although this included charities for which no incomes had been declared and did not account for all the removed charities.

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