All content on this page is correct as of June 26, 2020
On 25 June, the Charity Commission issued a regulatory alert to the leaders of large service-providing charities. The Commission has sent the alert to charities which have the following profile:
The alert follows a series of Charity Commission investigations into household name charities which found governance and safeguarding failings.
If your charity meets this profile
The alert warns you need to be aware of the risks that can result from governance and management failings and that identifying and mitigating these risks is even more important for charities facing economic difficulties as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Trustees are advised that while it is normal for the executive of large charities to have significant decision making authority, the trustees must still be willing to hold the executive to account. The trustees should:
Executive staff should feel confident that they can identify failures to protect people from harm, learn lessons from these incidents, and fully and frankly disclose them to trustees, regulators, and/or agencies. The alert recommends that the executive:
The alert also advises of the need to allocate sufficient resources for safeguarding and the protection of people – the Commission warns that this should not be an optional overhead, even if the organisation has faced financial difficulties due to Covid-19. This includes establishing effective safeguarding policies, procedures and training for trustees, staff and volunteers; where relevant, appointing a safeguarding lead to help co-ordinate and drive safeguarding strategy; creating a plan for responding to concerns overseas where applicable; embedding a “speak-up” culture within the organisation which enables staff to raise concerns; and ensuring that there are clear lines of responsibility for safeguarding when working with other organisations.
Later this year, the Commission will be contacting a sample of recipients of the alert to check what measures they have in place to manage the risks identified. It is therefore important for your trustees and executive staff to consider the contents and recommendations within the alert, and ensure that your governance structures, reporting and risk management procedures are sufficiently robust. Specifically the alert advises “If you have not done so within the last 12 months or if you are planning significant changes to your charity in the near future, you should check that your general governance arrangements are appropriate, in particular your risk management measures, assurance mechanisms relating to the charity’s activities and people protection arrangements.”
Relevance to other charities
The risks identified in the alert and the recommendations are also a useful framework for other charities to check that their governance arrangements are robust and address key risks. These issues will be particularly relevant to charities that are considering a merger, restructuring or significant expansion in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you would like help reviewing your current governance arrangements or putting in place the steps recommended by the Commission, please contact Philip Kirkpatrick or Hannah Lyons, and for advice or a review of your safeguarding and protection of people, please contact Emma Dowden-Teale.
This information is necessarily of a general nature and doesn’t constitute legal advice. This is not a substitute for formal legal advice, given in the context of full information under an engagement with Bates Wells.
All content on this page is correct as of June 26, 2020.