Regulator to monitor poverty relief charity after inquiry finds inadequate financial and administrative controls

The Charity Commission acknowledged steps by the Nottingham-based charity's trustees, but noted they had failed to fully comply with the Action Plan it issued

(Picture: Google Street View)
(Picture: Google Street View)

A Charity Commission inquiry into poverty relief charity Kamyabi has found that no trustee meetings were held and all decisions were made by a single trustee. 

A report published last week revealed the commission also found poor accounting practices, an “ad hoc” decision-making process and an unaddressed conflict of interest at the charity, which primarily works with Asian women in Nottinghamshire. 

The charity offers education and training, free employment and benefits advice, and employs beneficiaries to produce side dishes for a catering company.

The commission opened a case into the charity in August 2019 after it identified irregularities between the financial information the charity submitted and activities in its bank account.

According to the most recent set of accounts on the commission’s register, in the year to 30 September 2019 the charity had an income of £14,059 but spent £28,850.

A statutory inquiry was opened in November 2019 after an earlier visit to the charity examined whether the charity’s bank account was being used for private business.

The inquiry looked into the charity’s transactions with its trustees and companies related to the trustees, and their management and administration of the charity in relation to its governing document and charity law.

Investigators found that the charity held no trustee or annual general meetings and decisions were made on an ad hoc basis by just one of the charity’s trustees, who stated that the other two “trusted her to make the right decisions”.

They were not keeping a written record of their decisions, and a conflict of interest was discovered as two of the trustees were married to each other.

The trustees were unclear on exactly how to account for the charity’s activities, which ultimately resulted in incorrect financial information being supplied to the commission. 

An analysis of the charity’s bank statements from 11 October 2016 to 25 November 2019 showed that debit and credit postings in the charity’s bank accounts were higher than the income and expenditure disclosed by the charity in its annual returns.

The charity has since assured the commission that it will seek out additional trustees, and one of the married trustees has agreed to step down once new trustees are appointed.

Amy Spiller, head of investigations at the commission, said: “Good governance is not a bureaucratic detail – it underpins the delivery of a charity’s purpose to the high standards expected by the public. 

“The trustees of Kamyabi did not meet this standard and instead failed to set up either the adequate governance measures or the financial controls they needed to run their charity well.”

The regulator will continue to monitor the charity.

“We’re glad that as a result of this inquiry, the trustees have taken some positive steps to strengthen their charity,” Spiller said.

“We expect to see the trustees take our intervention seriously and act quickly to improve and so fully deliver on their charity’s purposes.”

A spokeswoman for the charity said the process of being investigated was "very supportive",

She said: "The team visited us and was very professional, but still assessed our situation kindly. They guided us very well and I am very satisfied with the outcome."

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