Charity Commission statistics for 2017-18

Published by Peter Barton on 29 January 2019

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The Charity Commission has published a report entitled “Dealing with wrongdoing and harm: statistics”. This includes some interesting information, including the following:

At 31 March 2018:

  • There were 168,010 registered charities.
  • There were 953,442 trustee positions filled by around 700,000 different trustees.
  • 80% of trustees have no support from staff or volunteers.

In the year to 31 March 2018 the Charity Commission:

  • opened 2,269 new regulatory compliance cases.
  • received 2,819 reports of serious incidents, over half of which were about safeguarding. 287 of these were received from auditors (194) and independent examiners (93). This is an increase of over 400% on the previous year.
  • opened 415 new compliance cases.
  • received 101 reports from whistleblowers.
  • opened 138 new statutory inquiries.
  • received 8,375 applications to register a charity of which 5,398 were registered.
  • scrutinised 534 sets of accounts.

The average duration of active compliance cases was 155 days.

The Charity Commission has some new or amended powers that were introduced by the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016. These powers have been used 137 times since their introduction, 78 of which were in 2017-18, and have resulted in trustees being removed or suspended and charities being wound up.

In her foreword to the report, Helen Stephenson, the Charity Commission’s Chief Executive Officer, emphasised that the Commission is becoming more preventative in its approach so that potential problems can be identified before they occur. As she points out, the potential impact on public trust and confidence when things go wrong demonstrates how fragile the good standing of the charity can be.

The report highlights six lessons to be taken from the Commission’s work in 2017-18:

  1. Insider fraud – almost three-quarters of cases arose because too much trust was placed in an individual or other people in the charity did not challenge things.
  2. Safeguarding – 1,580 serious incident reports were received about safeguarding. 1,700 charities have been contacted where their annual returns said they worked with children or at-risk adults but did not have a safeguarding policy.
  3. Reporting serious incidents – reporting such incidents is part of governing your charity. It may not be comfortable but the Commission considers charities that do not report incidents as higher risk than those that do.
  4. Counter-terrorism – the number of proven cases is small but they do reduce public confidence and trust. Ensure you have proper procedures in place to manage the risks of coming into contact with potential terrorists.
  5. Data protection – the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was introduced in May 2018 and is likely to be a more high-profile risk for charities in 2019.
  6. Military charities – the lack of safeguarding policies and practices to deal with mental health in some charities was a concern.

The report can be found here – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dealing-with-wrongdoing-and-harm-2017-18/dealing-with-wrongdoing-and-harm-lessons-for-trustees

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