Commission has made ‘significant progress’, but has more to do, says NAO

Written by Lauren Weymouth

The Charity Commission has “improved significantly” in recent years, but still has work to be done, the National Audit Office has said in its latest report.

Published today, the NAO report on the progress made by the Charity Commission focussed on the progress that the Commission has made since the NAO’s last report which was published in 2015.The report examined areas that could be improved and made suggestions for the Commission to consider next.

The NAO said the Commission has made vast improvements since it raised “significant concerns” about its strategy. In 2013, the NAOs initial report was produced to assess the Commission’s work and at the time, concluded it was “not an effective regulator”.

Both the NAO and Committee of Public Accounts raised concerns at the time about the way it measured performance, its leadership and its regulatory approach.

However, the NAO said since then, the Commission has carried out a transformation programme and has taken action in response to the recommendations.

“We have found that the Commission has continued to improve significantly from its baseline position in 2013. It has made improvements through the transformation programme, embedding a culture of continuous improvement and the use of a more risk-based approach, the NAO said in its report.

However, it noted the Commission has “more to do” in planning for an uncertain and dynamic future. “The focus on improving internal structures and processes, although important in moving on from the 2013 position, will need to be complemented by further collaboration and external engagement,” it said.

“This will support future discussions on funding and will give the Commission more influence over its own agenda. It will need the support of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (that provides, where necessary, ministerial support), the sector and other stakeholders to achieve this.

“Overall, the Commission has almost completed its Transform programme and it is now vital that it keeps up the momentum of change and embeds a culture of continuous improvement.”

The report makes a number of recommendations as to how the regulator can continue to make improvements and regulate more effectively.

It stresses that a sustainable funding model will be crucial to the Commission’s continuing transformation and suggests a public consultation may be required to agree a shared position between government, the regulator and the sector as to the level and source of longer term funding.

The Commission’s response

In response to the report, the Charity Commission said it welcomes the fact the NAO has recognised the progress it has made in becoming a more effective regulator, including its digital transformation.

Charity Commission chairman William Shawcross said: “I am delighted this report recognises the huge strides we have made in the last five years to become a more effective, risk-based regulator.

“There is still work to be done but as my time at the Commission comes towards an end, we can rightly be proud of the transformation we have gone through. Huge credit must be given to our incredible staff who have been central to this throughout.”

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