Charities ‘too soft’

The Charities Commission has been branded ?complacent? and condemned by parliament?s chief financial watchdog for failing to ensure annual accounts are filed.

The Public Accounts Committee has demanded a major tightening of the regime. It was alarmed that one-third of charities failed to provide annual accounts last year – far short of the target of 80% for smaller charities and 100% for those with an income of #250,000 or more.

It branded as ?unacceptable? the failure of the commission to meet its own, too soft target. In future, it wants tougher targets of 100% filing of accounts from all charities with an income of #10,000 or more, and it called for a much more rigorous regime for collecting and monitoring charity accounts.

The PAC accused the commission of a ?lack of management grip in its regulation of the charity sector,? and of being ?too passive? in response to the failure of charities to file accounts and provide information for the charities register which is inaccurate and out of date.

The PAC highlighted the failure of the commission to use stronger powers, granted to it in 1993, ?to anything like its full potential?, and demanded a drive to exploit these powers for greater effectiveness.

PAC chairman David Davis said: ?I am concerned the commission is too complacent about the possibility of abuse in the charity sector. The commission views abuse as a minor problem in the sector as a whole, and they might be right. The point is they have failed to collect the evidence to prove that they are right.?

He added: ?Its register is inaccurate, it has failed to secure proper accounts from many charities, and it places insufficient emphasis on monitoring and investigating charities.

?The Charity Commission must do more to ensure the regulatory framework does not fail public expectation. The commission is looking for much stronger powers than those granted in 1993 and expects those powers to be used.?

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