One of the topics discussed at our recent series of Trustee workshops was the changes that are taking place to the annual return which is submitted on line to the Charity Commission. Charities with gross income of less than £10,000pa will be asked to file an update form.
All charities with gross income over £10,000pa must file an annual return online. The annual return together with the accounts must be filed within 10 months of the accounting year end. Failure to file within the 10 month period results in an entry against the Charities record on the Charity Commission website.
The 2015 Annual Return has three additional questions which must be answered. Some additional thought and planning ahead is required before answering these questions. These questions are:
• How much income did the charity receive in the last accounting period from: Contracts from Central or Local Government to deliver services; and how much was received as grants from Central or Local Government. I suspect that this is to enable the Charity Commission to more easily establish the level of support for the sector from central and local government
• Does your charity have a policy on paying staff? If the answer to this is no and there are wages payments in the accounts this might be an indication of the governance within the charity. If the answer is yes then the mention of the policy in the Trustees Annual Report may be appropriate. In future the trustees will need to review this policy.
• Has your Charity reviewed its financial controls during the reporting period? An answer of ‘no’ again may indicate the level of Trustee Governance in the Charity. However the question should be answered honestly, and the fact that it is being asked is an indication of the importance the Charity Commission place on this aspect of a trustees role. Again this should be on the agenda of meetings on an annual basis.
A further comment regarding the Annual return and the annual accounts is a reminder that the responsibility for the filing of the Charities accounts and annual return lies with ALL the trustees. It is not appropriate to delegate the responsibility to a treasurer or accountant. The responsibility lies with all trustees equally.
We understand that the 2016 Annual Return will be broadly the same as that for 2015. The only changes are likely to be the financial information required of charities with an income of £500,000 and over, reflecting changes required due to the new SORP.
By Steve Cresswell, Partner and member of the Charity and non-profit Team
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