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Account filing and serious incident reporting in light of COVID-19

Photo of Stephen Mathews Stephen Mathews
2 min

Charity Commission

The Charity Commission has issued a statement which says that during the coronavirus pandemic, it will be as flexible and pragmatic as possible in its approach to regulation. Whilst still asking charities to file accounts on time if at all possible, the Commission has said that where an imminent filing deadline can’t be met they can be contacted with a view to arranging an extension.

As there is no indication of what imminent means, we would suggest that if you have concerns about making your filing deadlines that you contact the Charity Commission as soon as possible. This goes for accounts or the Annual Return. As far as we are aware, extensions have been granted for periods of up to six months.

Companies House

Towards the end of June, temporary modifications to filing regulations were signed into law that extends filing deadlines (generally by three months) for companies whose year-end falls between 27 June 2020 and 5 April 2021. There are rules that apply in special circumstances and these can be found in the guidance ‘temporary changes to Companies House filing requirements’.

At the time of writing, there remained no public access or letterbox at the London office. All mail and paper documents should, for the time being, be directed towards the Cardiff Office. There is restricted access to the Companies House offices in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Serious Incident Reporting

When it comes to serious incident reporting, the Charity Commission has said that it is the responsibility of the charity trustees to continue to report serious incidents using the current guidelines. The same conditions and thresholds as already exist continue to apply. So the question remains whether the incident is serious in the context of your charity or in any broader context. Where the trustees come to the conclusion that a report is required, then best practice would suggest that it be made promptly.

Guidance on how to report a serious incident can be found here.

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Written by

Stephen Mathews

Stephen has been at Stewardship for 15 years, advising churches and Christian charities on a breadth of issues around money, culture and governance. Previous to that, he gained valuable experience working for 20 years in the accountancy profession, alongside church leadership in his spare time.

Stephen is passionate about Local Church, UK Poverty & Debt, and International Aid, with a particular focus on educational development in Africa and in youth violence and racial inequality.