Reporting thresholds change could lighten red tape burden

Nearly 75 per cent of registered charities could benefit from changes to reporting thresholds seeking to lighten bureaucratic loads.

Proposed changes by the Office of the Third Sector and the Charity Commission include raising the threshold for submitting annual accounts from an income of £10,000 to £25,000, introducing a threshold of £25,000 for the requirement to prepare a trustees’ annual report and increasing from £10,000 to £25,000 the threshold at which the requirement for external scrutiny of accounts for non-company charities comes in.

“The rationale behind this is that it promotes accountability and transparency in the sector, whilst minimising the administrative burden for smaller charities of sending in documents to the commission,” a spokeswoman for the regulators said. “We would always encourage charities to explain their work openly when asked.”

But Jonathan Brinsden, a solicitor at law firm Bircham Dyson Bell, said he was not convinced that asking charities to report on their activities once a year was a disproportionate burden.

“You could argue there is a degree of self-interest on the commission’s part because it’s going to reduce its administrative burden,” said Brinsden. “We know its budget has been tightened, but it’s not in donors’ interests to raise the TAR threshold.”

The proposals also suggest raising the income threshold distinguishing volunteers from professional fundraisers to £10 a day, instead of £5.

The changes have been put up for discussion in a joint consultation from the Office of the Third Sector and the Charity Commission. Those interested in sharing their views have until 31 March 2008 to do so.

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