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Charities: Educational Institutions

Volume 505: debated on Tuesday 2 February 2010

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many educational institutions have been investigated by the Charity Commission in each of the last five years; and what the reason was for each investigation. (314760)

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Charity Commission. I have asked the Commission to reply.

Letter from Andrew Hind, dated 1 February 2010:

As the Chief Executive of the Charity Commission, I have been asked to respond to your written Parliamentary Question (314760) on the number of educational institutions investigated by the Charity Commission in each of the last five years, and the reasons for these investigations.

We cannot readily identify those charities which are educational institutions, as the way in which we record our information about investigatory work does not identify types of institutions, only their charitable purposes. As you will appreciate, these are widely varied given the diversity of the charitable sector.

Charities which list education as part of their purposes make up approximately half the total number of charities on the Register. They include schools, universities and colleges, through to think tanks and educational research institutions as well as community organisations and those that provide adult learning classes.

We have analysed those charities which were subject to a Statutory Inquiry (investigations opened under Section 8 of the 1993 Charities Act, which deal with cases of significant risk and serious regulatory concern) closed during the years 2005 to the present. The numbers of Statutory Inquiries into charities with educational purposes completed over the past five years were as follows:

Inquiries into charities with educational purposes

Total inquiries
















As part of the changes we made in 2006 following a strategic review of the Commission's work, we moved away from the previous practice of treating all investigations as statutory inquiries. Instead, we reserved the opening of statutory inquiries to only those cases of the most serious regulatory concern and that is why the total number of formal inquiries has reduced significantly since 2006.

In the time available I have not been able to analyse the detail behind all of the inquiries involving charities with educational purposes which we have conducted in the past five years. However, looking at the past two years in greater detail, I can tell you that the 16 inquiries falling into this category related to the following charities with educational purposes:


Name of Charity


The Smith Institute (registered charity No. 1062967)


Greater Life Foundation and Greater Life Trust Foundation (registered charity numbers 1076688 and 1106280)


Manacare Foundation Ltd. (registered charity number 1108701)


Al Ikhlas Foundation (registered charity number 1047844)


Footballers' Further Education and Vocational Training Society (registered charity number 277501


Shiloh Pentecostal Fellowship Trust (registered charity number 507798)


Palestinians Relief and Development Fund (Interpal) (registered charity number 1040094)


Mama East African Women's Group (registered charity number 1080481)


Afro Caribbean Millennium Centre (registered charity number 519691)


St Peter's Independent School (registered charity number 281736)


Catz Club (registered charity number 1112772)


Humanitarian Coalition Aid Foundation (former registered charity number 1095610)


The Smiles Foundation (registered charity number 1087961)


Tariqa Burhaniya D'Suqiyya Shazuliyya (TBDS) (registered charity number 1041647)


The Trust of St Benedict's Abbey, Ealing (registered charity number 242715) This includes the findings of two Statutory Inquires.

Many of these 16 charities may not meet the definition of educational institutions that you had in mind, which I suspect may include only schools, colleges, universities and other centres of learning. I would be happy to undertake further analysis of this category of organisation should you wish me to do so.

The other type of investigation we conduct is non-statutory, which we call a Regulatory Compliance Case. In these cases the risk is usually more limited and able to be resolved without the need to intervene using our statutory powers.

The causes for concern involved in our investigations into charities are wide and varied. However, the concerns we most commonly examine include alleged financial mismanagement of the charity; trusteeship issues such as the suitability of trustees; management controls; dominant trustees, or their ineligibility to act; conflicts 'of interest; and/or unauthorised trustee benefits; alleged misappropriation of charity funds; or issues involving fundraising irregularities.

Broader analysis of the wider issues of concern arising from our investigations can be found in our annual report on the work of our Compliance function, ‘Charities Back on Track’. I will arrange for copes of this report for 2007-8 and 2008-9 to be placed in the Library of the House. In addition our Statutory Inquiry reports for the past six months and a number of Regulatory Case reports are available on the Charity Commission website.

You may be aware that in July 2009 we published public benefit assessments of five charitable fee-charging schools. These were not investigations; they were part of our wider programme to raise awareness of the operation of the public benefit requirement, in line with our statutory objective in this area. They involved gathering information, compiling reports for each individual charity and publishing our emerging findings from the work as a whole in order to provide further guidance for charities about this matter.

I hope this is a helpful response to your question.