Whistleblowing reports to the Charity Commission rose by 75 per cent last year

The number of whistleblowing complaints received by the Charity Commission rose by almost 75 per cent last year, figures from the regulator show.

The commission’s annual whistleblowing report shows that it was sent 431 whistleblowing complaints about charities in the year to the end of March 2021, up from 247 in the previous 12 months.

The number of whistleblowing complaints received by the regulator has risen rapidly since the Oxfam safeguarding scandal was exposed in early 2018.

The latest figure is almost five times higher than in 2016/17, when just 88 complaints were recorded.

The regulator said the majority of the complaints it received in 2020/21 were from employees, accounting for slightly more than half of the reports made.

This is lower than last year because the proportion of complaints received from other sources, such as trustees, increased year on year.

Almost one-third of the issues raised, the highest proportion, related to governance, while 29 per cent of complaints mentioned safeguarding and 28 per cent were to do with financial management. A single disclosure can include matters relating to more than one issue.

The commission said it dealt with and closed 72 per cent of the cases raised by the end of the reporting period.

It said that it took action in the “majority of incidences”, including regulatory advice and guidance or an action plan being issued in more than 380 cases.

Helen Earner, director of regulatory services at the Charity Commission, said: “We welcome the significantly increased number of whistleblowing reports about charities as an indication that improvements in our approach to whistleblowing are having an impact and more people in the sector have felt able to report their concerns to us this year.

“As part of our improvements, we have widened the service we provide to whistleblowers, so that we include and handle reports from volunteers and trustees in the same way as charity employees.

“All whistleblowers have access to independent advice about how to come forward with a concern, and when they have decided to do so, we call each person directly, to listen to their concerns and support them to make the brave decision to come forward.

“As a result, we are hearing from a greater range of people involved in charities than in previous years and we have been able to identify and address wrongdoing in charities at an early stage.”

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