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Charities

Volume 506: debated on Monday 22 February 2010

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if she will request the Charity Commission to require charities which have been found by the Commission to have raised money for a purpose outside their charitable objects to post information to this effect on their website and to indicate the steps they are taking to return such donations to the donors. (317183)

The Charity Commission is an independent non-ministerial Government Department responsible for the support and supervision of charities in England and Wales under the Charities Acts 1993 and 2006. The Charity Commission is not subject to ministerial direction or control, and it would not be appropriate for me to make such a request. However, I have made the Charity Commission aware of your concerns.

A charity should take immediate action if it realises that it has made an appeal outside of its purposes. Where possible, it would be necessary for the charity running the appeal to contact the donors to clarify the basis on which they made their donation. The next steps would depend on the circumstances of the appeal and should be taken in consultation with the Charity Commission.

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what steps the Charity Commission is taking to ensure that charities file their accounts with the Commission within the prescribed timescales. (317184)

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

Letter from Andrew Hind, dated 11 February 2010:

As the Chief Executive of the Charity Commission, I have been asked to respond to your written Parliamentary Question on what steps the Charity Commission is taking to ensure that charities file their accounts with the Commission within the prescribed timescales (317184).

To ensure that charities file their accounts within the prescribed time limit the Commission:

issues reminders by letter or email three months and one month prior to the submission deadline;

makes telephone contact with charities with income in excess of £5 million if they do not respond to written reminders;

clearly highlights any failure to submit accounts on the online public Register of Charities.

These measures are supported by periodic press campaigns, most recently the Commission's File on Time campaign launched in February 2010.

Charities that fail to comply may be subject to enforcement action or may be removed from the Register if it appears that they are no longer operating.

The percentage of charities filing accounts on time has risen from 66% in 2006 to 81% in the year to January 2010. In 2008-9, 94% of the sector's income was accounted for in annual accounts filed within the ten month deadline.

I hope this is helpful.