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Charity Commission Annual Returns - a guide!

By Kevin Russell | 28 February 2014

Charity Commission Annual Returns - a guide!

The information required by the Charity Commission on the new Annual Return Form for 2014 will include a number of new, compulsory questions. As the new information is largely going to be a matter of public record, now will be a good time to ensure that your charity has its house in good order!


Whilst some of the new questions include matters that are required to be included in a Trustees’ Annual Report, the Commission want to capture the same data for all charities that are required to submit an Annual Return, and not just those that are also required to submit their annual accounts and report.


The aim of the new questions is to serve both the Commission’s regulatory functions and the public interest.


The new questions are set out below and the responses will be available to the public, for the first time, via the charity’s register page on the Commission’s website (although it is not presently clear if this will include information on grant making activity):


  • If the report of the auditor or independent examiner on the charity’s accounts has been ‘qualified’;
  • Whether or not the charity pays one or more of their trustees for being a trustee. Note: this will not include reimbursement of expenses properly incurred by trustees, nor payment for properly authorised services provided to the charity by trustees;
  • Whether the charity has written policies for:


  1. Risk Management
  2. Investment
  3. Safeguarding vulnerable beneficiaries
  4. Conflicts of interest
  5. Volunteer management
  6. Complaints handling


  • Does the charity have a trading subsidiary?
  • Whether grant making is the main way that the charity carries out its purposes;
  • Whether or not the charity raises funds from the public?
  • Does the charity work with a ‘commercial participator’?
  • Does the charity have an agreement with the ‘commercial participator’?
  • Whether the charity is regulated by a regulator, or registered with a registrar other than the Commission.


The Commission will also encourage (but not require) charities to explain what they have achieved during the year in a free text box. They have undertaken to provide clear definitions and guidance on the information required.


The Commission will also publish the following information on the charity’s register page on the Commission’s website:


  • If the charity has become insolvent or is in administration;
  • If the charity is subject to enforcement action by the Commission for non-submission of accounts. This will apply to charities that have failed to submit their accounts after repeated reminders and remain in default six months after their filing deadline;
  • If the charity is a member of the Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB);
  • Whether the charity was formed from a merger of two or more charities or whether a charitable company has been set up to receive the assets of an unincorporated charity.


They will obtain this information directly from the FRSB, or from their own records.


The requirement for large charities (with income over £1million) to complete a Summary Information Return (or, SIR) is removed, with effect from AR 2014.


The Annual Return for 2014 together with the detailed guidance is expected to be available on the Commission’s website shortly.

Posted by Kevin Russell

Our Legal Eagle guru and Stewardship's Technical Director, Kevin constantly has his finger on the pulse of all things tax and charity law-related. His briefing papers for charities, churches and individuals are an invaluable resource on everything from VAT to Gift Aid. 


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