The Charity Commission has opened a new whistleblowing hotline.
In a blog published on the commission’s website today, Helen Stephenson, chief executive of the regulator, said the phone line would provide confidential advice to whistleblowers to help them decide how to raise serious concerns about charities.
This would include whether or not to officially report the concerns to the Charity Commission, the blog says.
The hotline will be run by the specialist whistleblowing charity Protect.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has provided up to £53,000 in funding for the new hotline, with £33,000 for the 2018/19 financial year and the rest for 2019/20 as part of measures to improve the experience for whistleblowers contacting the commission, including the hotline.
The DCMS funding was announced in October 2018 as part of a £2m pot of funding to improve the handling and awareness of safeguarding in the charity sector.
The commission will phone each whistleblower directly to discuss concerns they have raised through the hotline, according to the blog, and will provide a direct point of contact if they need to communicate further with the regulator.
The hotline will be piloted initially, Stephenson said, and the commission has also updated its guidance on reporting serious wrongdoing, which was originally launched in October 2018.
The new hotline comes after criticism of the regulator’s handling of whistleblowing reports, specifically from the former head of global safeguarding at Oxfam, Helen Evans, who accused the commission of failing to meet or talk with her about Oxfam’s handling of sexual misconduct claims.
The commission denied Evans’s allegations about its conduct.
Evans’s claims also prompted criticism from the shadow international development secretary, Kate Osamor, of the regulator’s response to the Oxfam crisis.
Stephenson says in the blog about the hotline: "Last year I committed us to improving the experience of whistleblowers: hand in hand with that commitment lies our ability to detect and act on intelligence from whistleblowers about charities at serious risk of harm.
"It’s another outward sign of our commitment to creating a regulatory environment that ensures that charity can thrive and inspire trust so that people can improve lives and strengthen society."
The hotline number is: 0800 055 7214.