Top marks for timely filing of charity accounts

More than ever are submitting on time, says Charity Commission

More charities are submitting their annual accounts on time than ever before, according to figures from the Charity Commission.

The compliance rate - the proportion of charities submitting their accounts within 10 months of the end of their financial year - stands at 80 per cent. This is the highest it has ever been, according to the regulator.

It is an increase of three percentage points on the figure highlighted in the regulator's annual report, published in July. In 2004, the proportion of charities filing on time was only 62 per cent.

The figures were revealed in the report by commission chief executive Andrew Hind for the regulator's open board meeting on 24 September.

Hind attributes the record rate to the commission's system for receiving accounts online and its strategy to "proactively manage inactive charities".

Since April 2009, 79 per cent of charities that have submitted annual reports have done so online. The figure rises to 84 per cent for small charities.

"The timely submission of these documents is vital in order to maintain the accuracy of the Register of Charities, which makes a key contribution to the transparency and accountability of the sector," said Hind.

The papers also contain a recommendation that the commission should make its decision review process more transparent.

A survey of trustees and members of the public who had applied for reviews of commission decisions concluded that applicants felt the process was lacking in transparency.

"Respondents seemed to expect much more openness from the commission," the board paper says.

Papers prepared for the board also showed that the number of complaints about the commission's service fell in 2008/09, but the proportion of complaints that were upheld rose. The commission's customer service team dealt with 31 complaint cases, encompassing 105 'issues', compared with 43 cases and 198 issues in 2007/08.

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