Treasury 'has stayed neutral' on Charity Commission accounting dispute with Department of Health

Commission chief Andrew Hind says Treasury refused to issue guidance on public bodies acting as sole corporate trustees

The Treasury has refused to intervene in a dispute between the Charity Commission and the Department of Health over public bodies that act as sole corporate trustees of charities, according to commission chief executive Andrew Hind.

The Department of Health has said that some NHS trusts that act as sole corporate trustees of charities might be forced to consolidate or have their accounts qualified by their auditors. But the commission believes this stance is incorrect.

In a report prepared for the commission's open board meeting in Taunton on Thursday, Hind said the regulator had asked the Treasury whether it would issue guidance on whether public bodies that as sole trustees of charities should consolidate those charities' assets into their own accounts.

 "HM Treasury do not appear to consider that it is necessary for them to issue any guidance on this matter at this stage," the paper says. "Without guidance there is a risk that government auditors and accounts applying international accounting standards will automatically seek to consolidate NHS charities."

The paper says the commission's view was strongly supported by the Association of NHS Charities and many independent audit specialists.

A spokeswoman for the Treasury said: "The accounting standards being applied under the Government's Financial Reporting Manual, based on International Financial Reporting Standards, are fit for the purpose of considering whether or not charities should be be consolidated."

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