PracticePeople In PracticeCharity Commission faces NAO inquiry

Charity Commission faces NAO inquiry

A National Audit Office inquiry is investigating the role of the Charity Commission, following claims that it failed to act swiftly over a scandal involving the charity, War Child UK, the Guardian has reported.

The remit of the inquiry will be whether the government department can fulfil its role in protecting donors’ cash from going amiss or be swallowed in bureaucratic processes and administration costs.

This followed a Guardian and Channel 4 News investigation which revealed that six celebrity patrons, including opera star Luciano Pavarotti, had quit War Child UK following revelations surrounding its co-founder Bill Leeson.

Trustees of the charity have demanded their money be returned, and a dispute has arisen amongst patrons, trustees and directors as to whether all of the £4m raised so far has gone into the music centre project.

On Wednesday this week, the commission came under further attack from David Davis, chairman of the Commons public accounts committee, who said a change in the law was needed to prevent the commission from acting as both an adviser to charities and their trustees, and policing their activities.

In 1998 MPs submitted a report to the NAO claiming the Charity Commission had failed to devote enough staff to investigate complaints about misadministration of charity funds, and was to slow and inefficient in its response.

In addition the report found many cases that had been closed by the commission before being fully resolved, and have since been reopened. In the first three months of 1998 only 17% of cases had been rectified.

Despite the commission’s admission that this was an ‘appallingly low’ ratio, John Stoker, the chief charity commissioner claimed ‘the commission’s involvement was prompt and intensive’.

In December 2000, Accountancy Age reported that the Charity Commission which annually regulates 185,000 registered charities with a combined income of over £24bn, had begun an investigation into 255 charities under its control.

At the time Stoker was quoted as saying: ‘Accountability and transparency are increasingly demanded of charities and it is right that they are also expected of us.’

Links

Commission investigates 255 charities

Charity Commission online

War Child UK online

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