'Serious concerns' about charities rise by 75 per cent, says Charity Commission

Regulator's annual report says it looked into 2,600 cases in year to March

The number of "serious concerns" about charities increased by nearly 75 per cent last year, according to the annual report of the Charity Commission, published yesterday.

The regulator assessed 2,600 such concerns in the year to 31 March, compared to 1,504 the previous year. The assessments led to 180 new investigations, the report says, compared with 168 in 2008/09.

"The recurrent themes in our compliance work were financial mismanagement, issues concerning trustee duties and responsibilities, cases involving vulnerable beneficiaries and inappropriate political activities, and campaigning charities," the report says.

A Charity Commission spokeswoman said: "We have continued to see an increase in the reporting of concerns to the commission by the public as well as a rise in the number of referrals from other agencies. This is largely due to a greater awareness of our regulatory role in identifying and investigating apparent or potential mismanagement and misconduct in charities.

"An increase in the number of serious incident reports from charities, probably due to growing awareness among trustees about the reporting requirement for charities, has also contributed to the higher number of assessment cases."

The report says 180,000 charities in England and Wales are registered with the commission, and they have a total income of £52bn. They employ more than 700,000 staff and call on the services of 850,000 trustees.

The commission’s expenditure in 2009/10 totalled £32.7m, up slightly from £32.3m in 2008/09.

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