Regulator probes financial concerns at Blackpool homelessness charity

The Charity Commission is looking into the Ashley Foundation, whose former chief executive allegedly used his personal credit card to buy luxury goods

(Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
(Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into a Blackpool-based homelessness charity amid concerns that charitable funds were used to fund the purchase of luxury goods by its former chief executive.

The regulator said today that it had been alerted to serious financial concerns with the Ashley Foundation after its former chief executive, who is not named by the commission, allegedly used his personal credit card to buy luxury goods and was reimbursed by the charity.

The commission said the purchases did not appear to be linked to the day-to-day activities of the charity so investigators would examine whether the transactions were “reasonable and in the charity’s best interests”.

The regulator said it was aware that properties belonging to the charity were sold to a third party and then re-sold on the same day for a significantly higher value.

It said the properties were now being managed by the charity under an agreement with a third party, “the terms of which raise potential concerns”.

The charity, which had an income of £2.1m in the year to the end of May 2018, is three weeks late in filing its accounts for 2018/19, according to its entry on the Charity Commission’s online register.

It was founded in 1997 to provide housing and support to vulnerable people and employs 38 people, according to its latest accounts.

A statement provided by the charity said it could make no further comment about the investigation other than it would be cooperating fully with the regulator.

“Our primary focus remains the provision of accommodation and support for the homeless in Blackpool, Sunderland and Blackburn, especially during these difficult and challenging times,” it said.

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