Serious incidents reported by trustees are up by more than 20 per cent

The Charity Commission says trustees filed 1,027 serious incident reports in 2011/12, compared with 849 in 2010/11

Charity Commission
Charity Commission

The number of serious incidents reported by trustees to the Charity Commission in 2011/12 rose by more than 20 per cent on the previous year, latest figures show.

The regulator’s annual report, published yesterday, says that 1,027 serious incident reports were made in 2011/12, compared with 849 in 2010/11. Serious incidents are defined as a range of issues from significant financial loss to illegal activity and threats to charity independence.

A spokeswoman for the commission said: "Charity trustees are becoming increasingly aware of their duty to report serious incidents to the commission, which is reflected in the significant rise in reports made to us over recent years, from 451 in 2009/10 to 1,027 in 2011/12.

She said the commission had developed procedures with some of the larger charities to enable them to report monthly or quarterly, meaning the reporting aspect was "less onerous".

"However, we still think there is significant under-reporting in the sector," she said. "We therefore continue to remind trustees, through our annual report of our compliance work and in our quarterly newsletter, of their duties to report serious incidents that occur in their charity to us."

The annual report also says there were 121 reports in 2011/12 from whistleblowers about charities, with about half of these relating to issues such as dishonesty or fraud. There were 35 whistleblowing reports in 2010/11.

It says the commission opened 12 statutory inquiries during 2011/12, of which nine have been resolved, and it pursued and resolved a total of 76 regulatory compliance investigations.

A total of 158 regulatory compliance investigations were completed in 2010/11, and nine statutory inquiries.

Statutory investigations centred around issues such as "problems around trusteeship, accounting issues and unmanaged conflicts of interest", while two inquiries concerned charities with alleged connections to terrorism.

There was also a slight rise in the number of complaints filed against the commission during the year, from 59 in 2010/11 to 61 in 2011/12

Of these, 21 complaints against the commission were considered, with 12 subject to a full examination by independent reviewers. These resulted in four complaints being fully upheld and one partially upheld.

One complaint about the commission during 2011/12 had been accepted for examination by the Parliamentary Ombudsman and is currently still under review.

The commission spokeswoman said the case related to a former staff member of a since wound-up disability charity who complained that the commission should have taken firmer regulatory action in response to complaints about the way the organisation operated.

The annual report also reveals that, despite the number of staff employed by the commission falling from 405 in March 2011 to 337 in March this year, the total amount spent covering staffing and related costs remained broadly similar to the previous year at £19m. This accounted for 70 per cent of the commission’s £27.2m total annual expenditure.

Sam Younger, the commission’s chief executive, and Nick Allaway, its head of business services, were the only commission executives to receive bonus payments in 2011/12.

Both received bonuses of up to £5,000, the report says.

The commission declined to put a precise figure on the size of the bonuses but said they were modest.

David Locke, the commission’s former executive director of charity services, received a compensation package of between £50,000 and £100,000 after leaving the commission on 6 April this year.

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