Regulator updates guidance on serious incident reporting during pandemic

The requirement to tell the Charity Commission about financial losses above a certain level has been waived

The Charity Commission has provided updated guidance to charities on reporting serious incidents during the coronavirus pandemic, including waiving the requirement to tell the regulator about financial losses above a certain threshold. 

The regulator has published additional guidance and examples of incidents arising from the outbreak that charities might need to report to it. 

Charities are usually expected to report financial losses that do not involve a crime and exceed either £25,000 or 20 per cent of its income.

But the new guidance says these thresholds do not apply when they are related to the pandemic and trustees should instead “focus on the significance of the impact of any losses rather than the amount”. 

It adds that having to take action to meet government rules, such as closing premises, should not be considered a significant incident in itself. 

The regulator said that the impact of the action on the charity was the key factor in determining if it should be reported. 

In March, the commission withdrew advice it provided to charities about reporting incidents relating to the coronavirus pandemic after concluding it “was not as helpful as we would have liked”. 

The guidance, which said charities should file serious incident reports if the outbreak resulted in circumstances that had a significant impact on them, had been heavily criticised by voluntary sector figures.

It subsequently said that it would take a “flexible and pragmatic” approach to regulating the charity sector in light of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The new guidance was welcomed by Caron Bradshaw, chief executive of the Charity Finance Group, who said on Twitter that the regulator had been “reasonable and pragmatic” and taken steps to find out what would be helpful for charities.

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