New charity annual return to probe executive pay

The new annual return will make for an “easier user experience for charities”, the Charity Commission has outlined in a blog this month – but warns over a number of new questions relating to executive pay.

Charities with annual incomes of more than £10,000 and financial years ending 1 January 2018 are required to complete the new return (AR18) within 10 months of the financial year ending.

Among the changes, charities will be required to answer fewer questions, while complex forms will be reserved for only the biggest organisations.

On average, charities completing the 2018 annual return will answer 15 fewer questions than in the past, the Charity Commission said.

However, new questions will be added concerning executive pay and total staff remuneration. The Commission said it will make public how many individuals receive total packages worth upwards of £60,000 in bands (in bands of £10,000 up to £150,000, then in bands of £50,000).

Charities will also be required to provide information about their highest paid employee – though this information will be held for regulatory purposes, rather than made public, it added.

The report also revealed:

  • Only information about income from overseas governments or quasi-governmental bodies, charities and NGOs will be mandatory for the first year
  • Providing information about income from other overseas institutions and donors will be voluntary for the AR18 and then mandatory in following years, subject to a yet undisclosed revenue threshold
  • Questions will no longer be asked on whether charities are claiming rate relief for the premises they use, or the amount of gift aid they have claimed

David Holdsworth, Deputy CEO and Registrar at the Charity Commission, says: “The annual return is a vital tool in promoting charities’ accountability to the public, donors and beneficiaries as well as ensuring we have the information we need to be an effective, proportionate, risk-led regulator. I am grateful to the charities that took part in our extensive consultation on the content of AR18. Today’s report shows that we have listened carefully to charities’ submissions and have made important changes as a result.”

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