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New questions in the 2018 charity annual return

The 2018 annual return includes new questions. The Charity commission says it recognises that for some charities the new questions will create additional work. Certain questions will be optional this year to give time to put the systems in place to collect the information easily, requiring less effort in future.

Salaries and benefits in charities

Research into public trust and confidence in charities shows that the public is concerned about high levels of pay in charities. Because of this they will be asking charities to provide more information about salaries to increase accountability.

In the annual return for 2018 it will ask for a breakdown of salaries across income bands, and the amount of total employee benefits for the highest paid member of staff. In response to concerns raised during the consultation, they will not publish details of benefits given to the paid member of staff on the public register.

Overseas expenditure

The return builds on the current annual return questions about charitable expenditure overseas, to establish how charities transfer and monitor funds sent overseas. They are doing this because all money transfer processes bear risks, and it’s important that charities take appropriate steps to manage these.

The commission recognises that some charities will need to make changes to their record keeping to answer parts of this question. For this reason the questions about methods of transferring money outside the regulated banking system, and about monitoring controls and risk management, will be optional for the 2018 annual return.

These questions will be mandatory for the annual return 2019 onwards.

Income from outside the UK

To get a better understanding of the income sources from outside of the UK, they are introducing questions about the breakdown of sources of income from each country a charity receives funds from.

The options provided are:

  • overseas governments or quasi-government bodies
  • overseas charities, non-governmental organisations or non-profit organisations (NGOs/NPOs)
  • other overseas institutions (for example private company donations)
  • individual donors resident overseas
  • unknown

Some charities will need to make changes to their financial systems to collect and sort the information more easily. For this reason, they have made those parts of the question set relating to other private institutions outside the UK (other than charities, Non-Governmental Organisations and Non-Profit Organisations) and individual donors outside the UK optional to answer for the 2018 annual return.

These questions will be mandatory from 2019 onwards.

Read The Charity Commission - Changes to how you update your charity details