What to expect from the Charity Commission over the next five years
Speaking at the Charity Commission’s annual public meeting in Manchester on 5 March, the Commission’s Chief Executive and Chair conveyed a message to the sector about what to expect from its regulator over the next five years.
The Commission’s Chief Executive, Helen Stephenson made it clear that the regulator’s capacity is still on a “knife edge”, after experiencing the “double whammy” of funding cuts and increasing demand for its services. The Commission currently receives on average 260 emails or phone calls from customers per day.
However, plans to address this through a consultation on whether the Commission should charge charities for regulation are on hold because the government is preoccupied with Brexit. Last year the government gave the Commission an additional £5m per year, until a consultation on charging charities could come about, which has enabled the regulator to recruit additional staff.
Despite the challenges, Stephenson outlined the key points from the Commission’s statement of strategic intent last year and said: “Work is currently underway translating all of these objectives into clear and measurable delivery plans. It’s not a heroic strategy, but it’s an ambitious one.” She added that the Commission is “implementing it in a challenging time for us”.
She said the Commission is focused on delivering on the refreshed aims set out in last year’s statement. “We want to set out our stall to the charity sector about the way in which we are going to develop in the next five years,” Stephenson said.
So, what can charities expect from the Commission?
Both Stephenson and the Commission’s chair, Baroness Stowell, said that the Commission will be “louder”, and charities can expect to hear the regulator speaking up more.
Baroness Stowell told charities to expect to see a more confident Commission. A Commission that is unafraid to use its voice and authority to encourage behaviour and conditions that help charity thrive.
The Commission also plans to improve access to data and improve content so that it’s engaging and useful for trustees.
You can read Baroness Stowell’s speech here Chair’s speech to the Charity Commission Annual Public Meeting
What’s on the agenda for Charity Governance in 2019
Louise Thomson from ICSA has written for Charity Times about charity governance trends to expect in 2019.
2018 saw significant concerns in relation to safeguarding, the introduction of new data protection laws, and a strategy from the Charity Commission focussed more strongly on public trust. Louise anticipates that in 2019, boards should expect:
- A continued focus on safeguarding and serious incident reporting
- Continuing ICO and media interest in GDPR compliance
- Embedding of the NCVO Charity Ethical Principles
- Revised guidance from the Charity Commission on the duties of members of charitable companies
A refresh of the UK Charity Governance Code is also planned to ensure that it reflects the changing environment. WCVA is a member of the Charity Governance Code steering group and we look forward to working with the group on the refresh, as well as continuing to promote the Code in Wales.
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The Charity Commission has updated its guidance on safeguarding and protecting people.
The Commission has stated that safeguarding should be a governance priority for all charities, not just those that work with groups traditionally considered at risk. Charity trustees must take reasonable steps to protect people who come into contact with their charity from harm.
The updated guidance aims to bring clarity in a number of areas:
- Managing risks
- Policies and procedures you need to have
- Getting checks on trustees, staff and volunteers
- Protecting volunteers and staff
- Safeguarding children or adults at risk
- Working overseas
- Handling and reporting incidents and allegations
- Working with or making grants to other organisations
- Terrorism and the Prevent duty
The guidance includes a new infographic: 10 actions trustee boards need to take to ensure good safeguarding governance
We would recommend that trustees ensure that safeguarding leads within their organisations familiarise themselves with the guidance.
If you have any questions or concerns about safeguarding in your organisation, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our free Safeguarding service by email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 0300 111 0124 (option 6)
New guidance on how to change your charity details
The Charity Commission has recently updated its guidance on how to make a number of different kinds of changes to your charity
- How to check and update your charity’s details before submitting the annual return
- How to change your charity’s financial year
- How to remove a trustee’s name from public display on the register
- How to change your charity’s legal structure
Remember, registered charities have a responsibility to ensure that the Charity Commission has accurate and up-to-date information about your charity.
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