Second three-year Strategy from Charities Regulator to focus on introducing a risk-based model of regulation and ensuring compliance with standards

Introducing a risk-based model of regulation, ensuring compliance with standards and moving the Regulator toward corporate independence are the top priorities for the Charities Regulator for the next three years, according to its Strategy Statement 2019-2021, which has been published today.

Commenting at the launch of the strategic plan, Patrick Hopkins, Chairperson of the Charities Regulator said, “Having the trust and confidence of the public is essential to charities, as many raise funds from the public to help deliver their services and to meet the cost of their charitable work.  In order to achieve that trust, we will, over the next three years, work to ensure their understanding of best practice so that they can operate effectively and demonstrate that best practice to the public.  We will also act through effective, yet proportionate, regulation to ensure compliance, for the benefit of all.”

Commenting on the progress made since its establishment in 2014, Helen Martin, Interim Chief Executive at the Charities Regulator said, “In order for the charity sector to prosper and for charities to continue to contribute to the communities in which they operate, it is essential that public trust and confidence exists.  Levels of trust and confidence in charities have been eroded in recent years, resulting in governance and fundraising practices being placed under ever-increasing public scrutiny.  Since our establishment we have made significant progress in the regulation of charities and today there are over 10,000 organisations on the Register of Charities.

“There are a number of areas where work remains to be done, particularly in relation to transparency and accountability.  For example, the use of abridged accounts by some charities, which provide limited insight into the finances of their organisations, is an area we would like to see addressed.  We are conscious that full implementation of the statutory provisions relating to the preparation of accounts by charities and their audit and independent review will contribute significantly to achieving greater transparency and accountability,” she said.

“Over the next three years our focus will shift toward a risk-based model of regulation that is proportionate and focuses on proactive identification and prevention of harm where possible.  We are committed to acting fairly, proportionately and transparently and through this strategy we will demonstrate our commitment to championing the success of charities and supporting a sustainable and vibrant charitable sector,” said Martin.

Key to achieving the priorities set out in the strategic plan are the enactment of required legislation and securing and retaining suitably qualified and experienced regulatory staff.  Commenting on this Martin said, “Our ability to deliver on this Strategy over the next 3 years is dependent on a number of factors, not least the enactment of key pieces of legislation and of course addressing the staffing challenge in a way that delivers a fully resourced, experienced and stable staff complement and we will work hard to ensure those are in place so we can deliver on our priorities.”

There are four strategic priorities set out in the strategy statement, and they are:

  1. Strengthen public trust and confidence in charities: The aim is to ensure that the charity sector is regarded as well-run and well-regulated with appropriate checks and balances in place so that people feel confident donating, providing and receiving services, volunteering and working in it.
  2. Provide proportionate risk-based regulation and protection: The aim is to strengthen the charity sector through the early identification of harm or potential harm, and proactive intervention and engagement with charities, based on targeted assessment of significant risk using available data.
  3. Promote compliance and enhance engagement: The aim is to ensure there is sufficient information, understanding and engagement amongst charities, donors, funders, beneficiaries, volunteers and the public to facilitate higher levels of voluntary compliance with regulatory obligations and increased levels of proactive engagement by charities with their stakeholders.
  4. Enhance operational efficiency and service delivery: The aim is to ensure the Charities Regulator is a corporately independent organisation with the knowledge, expertise and organisational resources to effectively and efficiently deliver on our statutory mandate, with the understanding and broad support of our stakeholders.

Charities Regulator Statement of Strategy 2019-2021 is available here -