The Charity Commission (‘the commission’), the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales has announced that its latest annual return is now available and ready to use on GOV.UK. For the first time, it is a fully bilingual service in English and Welsh.
All registered charities with an income of more than £10,000 and all Charitable Incorporated Organisations (CIOs) reporting on their financial years ending in 2016 must complete the online form within 10 months of the end of their financial year. Sections of the data then populate the commission’s online public register of charities, which is a key source of data about charities in England and Wales.
A beta version of the new service has already been tested by a limited group of charity users and has been found to be much simpler for charities to use, taking only a few minutes to complete. Charities, trustees and advisers are encouraged to read the online guidance before starting to complete the annual return so that they know what information they need to submit.
The function to view and amend details about a charity’s trustees, contact addresses and emails is now separate from the annual return, so users can update these details at any time. Charities will also be asked to confirm that this information is correct before submitting their annual return. There are also small changes to the financial information required of charities with an income of £500,000 and over, reflecting the changes needed as a result of the new SORP.
David Holdsworth, Chief Operating Officer at the Charity Commission, said:
We are delighted to announce the official launch of the 2016 annual return in both English and Welsh. This is a first for the commission and is also part of our commitment to becoming a truly digital by default regulator. We have worked closely with the sector to ensure we are providing easy to use services that help trustees comply with their filing duties.
Although charities have 10 months from the end of their financial year to complete their annual return, we urge them not to wait until then. We also encourage them to take a minute to make sure their information is up to date, and to use the built in customer feedback to tell us what they think.
The commission reminds trustees that filing their charity’s annual return on time is essential so that they are accountable to the regulator, transparent in their activities for the benefit of the public, and demonstrate compliance to their donors. Failure to file on time can result in the commission taking regulatory action.
(Source: Charity Commission)