Statement from Caron Bradshaw NAO report on The regulatory effectiveness of the Charity Commission

4th December 2013

‘It’s clear from the NAO findings that the Charity Commission must improve their registration and investigations functions. The failures in the case of the Cup Trust in particular are stark - but what’s vital now is that lessons are learnt from this, improvements are made and that the Regulator is supported to fulfil its role in maintaining public trust in charities.

Charities form the very bedrock of our civil society. The vast majority operate to the highest standards, demonstrating trustworthiness and probity. It is vital that the behaviour of a small minority is never allowed to undermine the inspiring and life changing activities that charities and their trustees carry out every day - we were reassured to know that a search of the register showed that no other charity shared the features of the Cup Trust. We are also pleased that the NAO recognises that a strong and independent charity regulator plays a crucial role in maintaining standards, and consequentially the public’s trust; suggestions that the Commission’s functions could be merged with those of HMRC or even that it could be abolished completely ignore the broader role the Charity Commission plays.

Valuable elements of the Commission’s work, for example setting the accounting framework and general advice - areas where we believe the Commission is working well - shouldn’t be rubbished as a result of the justifiable criticism in the report. We should be careful not to tar all elements of the Commission's work with the same negative brush. A responsible regulator means cracking down quickly and assertively in cases of fraud, abuse and mismanagement, and having the powers to do so – it is clear that there is much to improve on for the Commission here. But it also means providing the regulated population, charities, with access to the tools to comply.’

In terms of the NAOs recommendations, Charity Finance Group:

- Strongly believes that the Commission could be more imaginative in how it uses the register of charities and information it collects to inform its work and assess risk; embracing open data is one step in this direction.

- Supports the NAO’s view that the regulator needs to take account of wider public interest and detriment issues and not just focus on a narrow legal position.

-Agrees that the Commission must improve its approach to dealing with trustees who deliberately abuse charitable status, and supports the introduction of more powers in this area, and agrees that sample checks on trustee information should be introduced without delay.

-Agrees that the Commission must use its powers where necessary, and seek additional powers as needed. But we would urge against a position whereby the Commission is judged solely by its use of those powers.

-Wholly endorses the recommendation that HMRC and the Commission work more closely together and improve information sharing, a point we have regularly highlighted.

- Ends -



1. CFG is the charity that champions best practice in finance management in the voluntary sector. Our training and development programmes enable finance managers to give the essential leadership on finance strategy and management that their charities need. With more than 2200 members, managing over £19bn, we are uniquely placed to challenge regulation which threatens the effective use of charity funds. For more information, please see  

2. For further information, please contact Jane Tully, head of policy and public affairs, CFG at, 020 7871 5474 or on 07584609403

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