Charity annual returns to contain more information

Following consultation, the Charity Commission is adding three new question areas to the annual returns filed by charities for financial years ending in 2015. “The changes are intended to strengthen the Commission’s ability to identify risk and ensure members of the public have the information they need to make confident decisions about charities,” says Ann Mathias, a charities and not-for-profit specialist at Moore Stephens.

The three new question areas are as follows:

1. In the reporting period, how much income did you receive from:

– contracts from central or local government to deliver services?
– grants from central or local government?

2. Does your charity have a policy on paying its staff?

3. Has your charity reviewed its financial controls during the reporting period?

These additional questions were broadly supported by respondents during the consultation process, the Commission says. However, a proposed question on charities’ campaigning expenditure will not be added for 2015 returns due to concerns about the amount of work that would be involved for charities. “The Commission still considers that charities’ campaigning expenditure is a matter of public interest, so plans to revisit the issue when it considers changes to the annual return for 2016,” Ann says.

The Commission has also decided not to require charities with incomes of between £10,000 and £500,000 to provide key financial information in their annual returns. Instead it will look for alternative solutions, perhaps involving accounting software to gather key information.

“The Commission has also taken the opportunity to remind charities of its tougher approach to those that fail to file their annual returns and accounts on time,” Ann notes. “It is therefore more important than ever that charities make sure they do file their annual returns – and their accounts if appropriate – within ten months of the end of their financial year.”


Ann Mathias

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