Charity Commission to toughen up on larger charities

The Charity Commission has announced plans to take a ‘more rigorous’ approach to high income charities that are failing to be transparent with the regulator and the public.

The regulator’s chair, Baroness Stowell, told MPs the regulator it has toughened up on high-income charities not being transparent enough, following a series of high-profile investigations at some of the largest and most well-known charities.

Stowell’s comments were made in written answers to questions set by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee for its inquiry into the work of the regulator. She was due to give oral evidence to MPs in March, however the session was later cancelled due to Coronavirus.

“As part of our strategic plan, the Commission has taken a more rigorous approach to high income charities not being transparent with the Commission and the public and we are sending better and more regular reminders,” Stowell said.

The regulator’s warning comes after it admitted to spending 1.3% of its annual budget on its investigation into Oxfam, which equated to £370,000 in staff time.

It said there is “no fixed target for the length of a statutory inquiry”, although investigations, such as those at Oxfam and Save the Children, which are complex, can take longer to complete.

“Failings at large, household-name charities can reverberate across the entire sector,” Stowell said.

“It would be wrong to forgo inquiries because of this. It is simply that some inquiries will take more time and resources than others because of the complexity of the cases and the level of legal challenge that the charity and interested parties involved bring to bear.”

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