Charity commission consults on information review

The Charity Commission, the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, has today launched a public consultation about the information the Commission collects from charities, most of which is published on its online Register of Charities.

The information on the Register is collected at the point of registration and later through the Annual Update and Annual Return process. This information forms the basis of a charity’s entry on the Commission’s online Register, which is used by the public, funders and donors, charities and researchers. From April 2011 to March 2012, people searched and found charities’ details on the Register over 6 million times. In addition to the responses on the consultation questions, the Commission is keen to receive comments or suggestions about the information that charities submit on an annual basis.

This will help the Commission to develop its future agenda for information as well as informing more immediate changes to the Annual Return. The Annual Return for 2012 is not affected: any changes to future Annual Returns will be carried forward at the next available opportunity. The online Register allows visitors to see which charities have filed promptly and which are overdue.

The Charity Commission encourages anyone who is interested in or wishing to support charities to use this publicly available resource to find out more. Views are welcome from everyone who has an interest in the Commission’s approach to collecting information from charities and from anyone who uses the online Register of Charities. This is an opportunity for the general public, funders, charities and researchers to have input into what information is provided on the Register. Sam Younger, Chief Executive of the Charity Commission said:

“We collect information from charities so that we can publish it for the public to use and to help charities fulfill their responsibility to be transparent. This information is also needed to allow the Commission to discharge its regulatory role, for example checking a sample of accounts each year and monitoring regulatory trends in the data to inform our regulatory approach.”   “This consultation is not about a quick fix. Some of the issues and questions we are exploring would require changes to legislation or accounting regulations in order to be taken forward. We do not have the power to make such changes ourselves, but we hope that people will use the opportunity to give their views on charity information and help set the agenda, both for short term and longer term change.”

The consultation period starts on 29 May 2012 and ends 20 July 2012. Journalists wishing further information about the consultation can contact the Charity Commission press office PR 16/12 Notes to Editors 1. The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales. See www.charitycommission.gov.uk2. To be the independent registrar and regulator of charities in England and Wales acting in the public’s interest to ensure that:

  • charities know what they have to do
  • the public know what charities do
  • charities are held to account

3. There are over 160,000 main registered charities, some of which have similar names or working names. To avoid confusion, each registered charity can be identified by its individual registration number, which can be checked on the Register of Charities. 4. Finding charities on the online Register: if you know the name or number of a particular charity you are looking for, type it into the box. If you wish to find charities of a certain size, you can select the income band you want. If you want to look for charities with overdue documents, at the top of the search page select ‘charities with latest documents overdue’ as opposed to the default setting of ‘registered charities’. Select the country you are looking in (i.e. England or Wales), and select ‘specific areas’ to choose which county you want.

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