Filing accounts is key to transparency and public trust in charities. A charity must submit accounts to the commission if:

  • It is set up as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO)
  • Its income exceeds £25,000
  • The commission has requested them

Failure to do so indicates a lack of transparency on the part of the charity. It may affect the charity’s reputation and in extreme cases can jeopardise trust in charity as a whole. To avoid this, the commission advises trustees follow 3 easy steps:

  1. Do not wait until you approach the 10 month deadline; when you have the documents, submit them
  2. Ensure you have a password to access the commission’s online services or ensure that you know who within the charity has the password
  3. Know that submission is the collective responsibility of the entire trustee body, not just the treasurer or secretary for example

The commission receives 60,000 sets of accounts each year. Almost 7,000 are required to have their accounts formally audited. Twelve months ago the commission began a 3-year programme of transformation in the way it works. When complete it will enable the commission to more effectively monitor accounts and intervene earlier when problems arise.

Despite all charities with income over £25,000 being required to submit accounts, thousands are in default. Excuses received by the commission include: “I don’t have access to the internet” [sent via email], “I’m not involved with this charity’s requirements, I am a trustee”;  “I already did it…last year”. 

William Shawcross, Chairman of the Commission said:  "Although these excuses are amusing, there is a serious point – after a difficult year for charities, it is essential they do all they can to be open about their finances. I hope trustees take note and file their accounts. If not, they could be hearing from the commission soon."

source charity commission january 2016