A consultation has been launched by the Charity Commission in order to gather additional information from the Annual Return (AR).

The intention of the proposed changes is to ensure:

  • The Commission holds the right information to help the public make informed choices about charities; and
  • To identify risks and provide charities with the support and guidance to enable compliance thereby minimising time and resource burdens.

The Commission has proposed a new set of questions, taking the maximum number of questions in the AR to 52, an increase of 16 from the 36 questions in the existing AR. Of these 52 questions, 32 would be the core questions, answered by all respondents.

These changes would apply to registered charities in England and Wales with income over £10,000 and all charitable incorporated organisations (CIOs).

A more flexible approach to the use of AR questions is also planned, enabling the Commission to reflect the circumstances at the point at which each AR is run. There will be a core set of fixed questions that will be asked every year, however some questions may not be needed, or it may not be appropriate to include them. The Commission will publish in advance details of which questions have been selected for inclusion in the AR and the rationale for including them.

The Commission intends to use feedback from this consultation to inform the development of the proposed AR questions, ensuring that charities of all types and sizes should be able to complete the parts that are relevant to them.

A response to the findings of this consultation will be published in the Autumn and the finalised questions will be included in the new AR Regulations which will come into force on 1 January 2023. The new AR will apply to charities’ financial years commencing on or after that date.

The consultation will close for comment on 1 September 2022, further information can be found here.

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