This year's annual return will not change significantly, says Charity Commission

But the regulator is to launch a new consultation on potential changes

Charity Commission
Charity Commission

The Charity Commission is to launch a new consultation on the annual return and will make no significant changes to this year’s version of the document, the regulator has said.

Earlier this month, Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, said charities would be required to include details in their annual returns on the size and source of any overseas funding they received.

At the time of Rudd’s announcement, the Charity Commission said in a statement that it would be asking charities to state whether they received overseas funding in the annual return and added that the 2017 annual return would be released this summer.

But a spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said today there would be no new questions in the 2017 annual return, including anything on overseas funding.

Instead, there will be a full consultation in the autumn setting out the changes the Charity Commission would like to make to the 2018 annual return, which might mean some new questions being added next year.

The spokeswoman said the commission was still seeking to move to a fully digital annual return, which it believed would reduce the administrative burden on most charities.

The announcement on overseas funding was also one of the proposals that would be covered in the forthcoming consultation, the spokeswoman said.

She said the consultation would help charities and other stakeholders to raise any concerns about the new questions and highlight any unintended consequences of their introduction.

At the end of last year, the commission consulted on whether the annual return needed structural changes as part of a two-year project to review the information it collects from charities.

Questions included whether charities should update fundamental information more regularly, rather than annually, and whether the annual return could be made more targeted and proportionate to reduce the regulatory burden on charities.

That consultation prompted a joint letter from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, the Charity Finance Group and the Association of Charitable Foundations, which said the annual return should not overburden charities with regulatory requirements.

In response to the announcement of a new consultation on the annual return, Andrew O’Brien, head of policy and engagement at the Charity Finance Group, said: "This is a welcome move by the Charity Commission and shows its willingness to engage with charities and get this right.

"Changes to the structure and content of the annual return will have a significant impact on the sector, particularly if they involve new or more detailed disclosures. It is critical that we proceed only once we have a clear rationale for any proposed changes and have held a thorough consultation to understand their impact."

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