Regulator opens online system for annual returns after technical issue

The Charity Commission has opened its online system for submitting 2022 annual returns after it was delayed by a technical issue.

The regulator said it had intended to make the system available in the last week of April but a technical issue meant it was held up until yesterday.

One charity told Third Sector the delay in opening the system meant it had been unable to apply for emergency grants after suffering financially during the past year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The chief executive said this is because funders were looking at the charitys entry on the regulators online register to verify applications but the information found there was out of date.

Charities have 10 months after the end of their financial year to submit their annual returns to the regulator.

But Maggie Bailey, chief executive of Coping with Cancer North East, said her charity’s finances had been badly hit by the pandemic, leaving it needing to make emergency funding applications.

She said the figures on the commission’s online register were out of date, including the amounts for its reserves, which had been significantly depleted over the past year.

This meant that when she tried to apply for emergency grants, funders were seeing the charity’s outdated information on the online register and concluding that its finances were not as bad as portrayed.

The charity’s financial year ended at the end of March and the charity wanted to upload its return to the commission at the beginning of April, but was unable to do so, said Bailey.

“This has put our plans back weeks already and we simply have not got the time to wait as our situation is quite desperate to find new funds,” she said.

A spokesperson for the regulator said: “After a short technical delay, trustees can now file their annual returns for the financial year ending in 2022.

“We encourage charities whose 2022 financial year has ended to submit their annual return in line with trustees' legal obligations.”

Last year’s annual return was not opened until June.

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