The Charity Commission has opened a consultation on changes to the content and structure of charity annual returns which will apply to financial years starting on or after 1 January 2018.

All charities with annual income over £10,000 must complete an annual return to enable the charity commission to keep an accurate register of charities and regulate and understand the sector.  The decision has already been made to change the format of the annual return to minimise the amount of information charities need to send annually.  Questions will also be targeted at larger and more complex charities.

The new format 2018 annual return will consist of:

  • A set of regulatory questions, tailored to each charity and confirmation of standing data. If the latter needs updating, the charity must use a new service -‘ Update Charity Details’ (UCD);
  • Questions on key financials for charities with income over £500k;
  • A declaration of the submission of accurate data and options to upload the accounts.

Charities can use UCD throughout the year to ensure that all entries on the register, such as Trustee details, are accurate and report on other fundamental information about key activities and policies.  By doing this, the questions in the Annual Return will be tailored to their circumstances and will also enable charities to receive updates and alerts tailored to their needs.

The changes should mean that, for all but the largest and most complex charities, completing the annual return will be much simpler and quicker.

The consultation is asking for feedback on additional regulatory questions which charities will be required to answer, if relevant to them, as part of the Annual Return.  In addition, comments are requested on UCD trigger questions which will tailor the further questions that each charity will have to answer in their Annual Return.  The consultation closes on 24 November 2017.

For more information on charity annual returns please contact WMT’s Elizabeth Irvine.