Charity Commission updates annual return submission

5th April 2023

The Charity Commission recently concluded a consultation that they launched into annual returns. The consultation looked at the current questions asked by the Commission when a charity submits its annual return, and whether further questions needed to be asked by the Commission in order to regulate charities more effectively. Based on the consultation feedback the Commission proceeded with their proposed changes to the annual return, stating that “the consultation feedback has allowed us to make significant revisions to the final annual return questions”.

What is the annual return?

The annual return is a document which reports on a charity’s income and spending in each year.

Do you need to complete it?

All charities (unincorporated and incorporated alike) registered in England and Wales will need to complete an annual return every year and submit this to the Charity Commission.

The questions and evidence that need to be submitted will vary according to the income  and type of charity.

Charities with an income:

  • Under £10,000 do not need to submit an annual return (unless they are a Charitable Incorporated Organisation).
  • Over £10,000 will need to submit an annual return.

Deadline to submit annual return

The deadline to submit the annual return is within 10 months from the end of the charity’s financial year.

What has changed?  

The Charity Commission have updated the annual return to include more questions to build a detailed picture of the risks to individual charities and the sector as a whole. The updated annual return questions can be found here.

Some of the changes introduced by the Charity Commission include:

  • Further information on the breakdown of the charity’s income;
  • A question about the value of the charity’s single highest value donation received from a corporate donor (if the charity’s gross income is over £100,000);
  • Questions about whether the charity spent any funds outside the UK, and whether any funds were passed through an unregulated banking system;
  • Questions about whether any of the charity’s employees receive total employment benefits of £60,000 or more, and the value of the total employee benefits paid to the charity’s highest paid employee;
  • A question about whether the charity has a trading subsidiary and whether it has been dissolved during the financial period of the return;
  • A question on whether the charity is a member of a wider group, as a parent or subsidiary;
  • A new question about which policies and procedures the charity has in place at the end of the financial period;
  • A significant amount of new questioning around serious incident reports.

The Charity Commission have confirmed that in early 2023 a guide to the new questions will be released to provide additional details on what they are asking, why they are asking it and how the data they collect will benefit the sector.

When and where to file the annual return?

The new questions will apply to all annual returns for financial years on, or after, 1 January 2023.

The annual returns should continue to be submitted through the normal process via the Charity Commission’s digital services platform. From summer 2023 onwards, trustees will be able to submit their annual returns via the ‘My Charity Commission Account’, trustees will also be expected to submit their accounts through this platform in the future.

For information about the ‘My Charity Commission Account’ please see our recent article about it here.

Should you have any questions or require advice on the contents of this article please contact a member of our Charities Team.

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