The number of serious incidents reported to the Charity Commission almost doubled last year, according to the regulator’s latest annual compliance report, published today.
Charities Back on Track 2010/11: Themes and Lessons from the Charity Commission’s Investigations and Regulatory Casework reveals the number of serious incidents reported was 451 in 2009/10 and 849 in 2010/11.
Of the 849 incidents, 371 related to fraud and theft, 337 to vulnerable beneficiaries and 75 to reports of charities subject to investigation by another body.
The report acknowledges this could be the case. "Our view is that many serious incidents are still not being reported to us by charities, given the overall number of registered charities," it says.
Sam Younger, chief executive of the commission, said in a statement: "It is encouraging that charity trustees are ensuring more serious incidents are reported to us, but the fact that the number of reports has doubled in just 12 months shows how much was not being reported, and we believe still isn’t."
The increase in serious incidents comes at a time when the commission’s budget is being reduced from £29.3m in 2010/11 to £21.3m in 2014/15.
The report says the commission intends to "target our resources where the risks are highest".
It also says the regulator is adopting a new organisational structure "with a flatter hierarchy and fewer layers of decision-making" that will "enable us to deal more effectively with issues coming into the commission and clarifying which issues are or are not for us to engage in".
The report urges charities and trustees to make greater efforts to protect themselves.
"We are still seeing too many charities that are not getting the basics right and put themselves at high risk of harm and reputational damage," it says.
"The importance of trustees reading and having regard to all our guidance will be even greater."