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The Charity Commission has recently released supplemental guidance for trustees to help them decide what constitutes a reportable serious incident during the coronavirus pandemic.

Charity Trustees will already be aware of their legal obligation to report serious incidents to the Charity Commission promptly. A serious incident is defined as an adverse event, whether actual or alleged, which results in or risks significant 

  • harm to your charity’s beneficiaries, staff, volunteers or others who come into contact with your charity through its work
  • loss of your charity’s money or assets
  • damage to your charity’s property
  • harm to your charity’s work or reputation

However, during the current pandemic, trustees may find their charity in unprecedented situations and be at a loss as to whether the pandemic, its impact on the charity or actions taken by trustees, staff or volunteers require a report to be submitted to the charity commission.

The Charity Commission usually expect an incident report if non-criminal financial losses exceed either £25,000 or 20% of the charity’s income. However, they have now confirmed that the thresholds do not apply when considering financial losses that are related to the Coronavirus pandemic. Instead “Trustees should focus on the significance of the impact of any losses rather than the amount”.

Simply taking action to meet government rules, such as closing premises, should not be considered a significant incident in itself. But where the impact of the pandemic or following government guidance has resulted in the charity being unable to operate or losing a substantial portion of its income AND as a result of this is unable to deliver vital services to at risk beneficiaries OR is highly likely to become insolvent within the next 12 months, this would be a reportable serious incident. 

The supplemental guidance released provides a useful table of examples of when an incident should or should not be reported. If your charity does need to report a serious incident to the Charity Commission, you should use the online form HERE, reporting as soon as reasonably possible. 

Whether trustees decide an incident is significant enough to report or not, details of any such discussion and the final decision should be noted in meeting minutes.

Further details of this guidance can be found HERE


If you would like to discuss any of the above any further, or need assistance with any of the applications, please contact me or your local Thomas Westcott office, we are here to help you during this difficult time.