RSPCA praised by regulator for leadership and governance improvements

The Charity Commission has ended its five-year scrutiny of the RPSCA amid concerns around its “frequent changes in leadership” and governance arrangements.

Concerns focused on the “unusual practice” at the animal welfare charity of relying on trustees as interim chief executives during a number of changes of leadership.

This “began as an interim arrangement” but “went on for too long, risking public confidence in an important national institution,” said the Commission.

The regulator was also concerned about the large size of the charity’s council, which consisted of 25 members. The long terms of office of council members and their “excessive involvement of council members in day-to-day issues usually the responsibility of the executive and staff”, were among other worries.

“The extent to which the trustees had the necessary knowledge, skills and experience given the size and complexity of the charity,” was also raised as a concern by the regulator.

But following an overhaul of the charity’s governance arrangements the regulator has said that its relationship with the RSPCA has moved to a “regular footing”.

“This means the charity’s structures are considered improved and able to deal with new issues should they arise,” the Commission said.

Changes have included reducing the size of the trustee body from 25 to 12 and improving the charity’s constitution.

The Charity Commission’s director of regulatory services Helen Earner added: “The RSPCA is a much-loved national institution, which performs a crucial role in animal protection. We have had to have extensive engagement with the charity over a number of years to ensure things were placed on a better footing but are satisfied that the RSPCA’s current governance reflects our expectations of large and complex charities.

“Charities that put their purpose at the core of all they do and underpin this with robust governance and the highest standards of conduct, will serve their beneficiaries better, and help meet their full charitable potential.”

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