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Did You Hear About the Charity Rule Changes?

There have been big changes brought about by The Charity Commission – are you prepared?

The summer of 2018 will be remembered fondly for its epic World Cup and unbelievably long heatwave. But something else happened this summer – the regulator of charities in England and Wales, The Charity Commission, changed its rules so that it could pay closer attention to those in charge of charities.

The rule changes widen the scope for automatic disqualification – that is, banning people from heading up a charity. The changes increase both the types of offences and the remits of the people that can commit them.

The Commission can now disqualify those who are in contempt of court, named under particular anti-terrorism legislation or appear on the sex offenders register.

Previously, the rules only covered wrongdoing by a charity’s trustees. Now chief executives and chief financial officers (or their equivalents) could face disqualification if they break the rules.

Similarly, anyone removed as a trustee, officer, agent or even employee of a charity by the Court of the Charity Commission may also be disqualified.

These changes have been introduced to give more scrutiny to the management and activities of charities. This isn’t just limited to major wrongdoing, such as safeguarding; it actually focuses more on compliance with the Commission itself, acknowledging “most compliance issues are as a result of trustees making honest mistakes, resulting in minimal impact.”

In 2017 there were over 1,500 regulatory compliance cases, with over half of these being allegations of “serious governance concerns, unmanaged conflicts of interest and trustee decision making”. This could be one of the reasons behind their need for more scrutiny.

Despite all of this, as a charity you are not alone. There is support out there to help you ensure that you are compliant.

How to avoid falling foul

Your recruitment

Firstly, as a charity, you should ensure that your senior management recruitment processes and checks are updated to include an appropriate declaration from the applicant.

Your existing trustees and senior managers

Your trustees and senior managers already in position should have given a declaration that they haven’t become disqualified as a result of the new rules. If they have, an application for a waiver can be made to The Charity Commission. The person in question can’t act in their role until the waiver is secured.

To find out more visit gov.uk/charity-commission

Turning Point – Winter 2018

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