Where we monitor charities

As a modern regulator, regulatory oversight of concerns about abuse and non-compliance in the sector is important.  It is an important tool in the identification and detection of abuse within charities and in disrupting the activities of those seeking to abuse charities.

This work is carried out by the Compliance Monitoring Unit whose primary purpose is to monitor charities where we have concerns that there is serious non-compliance, or believe that there is a significant risk of serious non-compliance within the charity. We do so using the information and knowledge we have about the sector and abuse in it and our experience of dealing with these concerns.

The regulatory supervision and monitoring of charities we carry out is done is in a proportionate and targeted way. It includes appropriate and targeted scrutiny of accounts, ensuring that actions trustees have promised to carry out have been completed; and carrying out compliance visits.

We may also need to exercise close oversight because we are unable to take immediate action to address concerns raised with us because another investigation takes primacy to our own or seek to identify at an early stage, those charities that may be at most risk, so that we can provide appropriate regulatory advice and guidance and act as a deterrent to those who seek to abuse them.

Compliance visits

In 2008 we started a programme of compliance visits to charities. The visits are an important monitoring tool providing us with an opportunity to examine the nature and seriousness of the concerns which have come to our attention but also act as a deterrent to those who wish to abuse charities. The purpose of these visits is to verify that the charity is complying with the legal and regulatory framework and ensure that the trustees are discharging their duties and responsibilities as trustees.

In 2008-09 we carried out 14 visits. As at 31 January 2010, we have carried out over 14 visits since April 2009. For the early visits, the key issues dealt with related to governance, accounting concerns and reporting of serious incidents. Key themes and wider issues from the visits carried out in 2009-10 will be reported in Charities Back on Track 2009-10 which will be published later this year.

Compliance visits usually focus on compliance in indentified areas of concern and are not just a general check up on the charity. For example, a visit may involve verifying that action previously required by the Commission of the trustees has actually been completed, or carrying out an inspection of the charity’s financial records, or undertaking an assessment of the charity’s risk management practices.

Before we make a compliance visit, we use the Risk and Proportionality Framework for the Commission’s Compliance work to assess whether it is a justifiable and appropriate way to address the identified concern. We also use specific criteria to help us decide which charities to visit.

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