Press release: Annual return 2015 released

The updated online return which collects information from charities is now live on GOV.UK and ready for charities to use. The annual return is an essential service for collecting data to update the register of charities, and helps us to hold charities to account on behalf of the public.

All registered charities with an income of more than £10,000 and all Charitable Incorporated Organisations (CIOs) who are reporting on their financial years ending in 2015 must complete the online form. Sections of the data then populate the commission’s register of charities. The online public register was viewed more than 6 million times last year and is a key source of data about charities in England and Wales.

The form includes new questions which charities must answer that will strengthen the regulator’s ability to identify risk, and will ensure people have access to the information they need to make confident decisions about charities.

Charities must now answer three new questions when they go online to complete the annual return:

  • In the reporting period, how much income did you receive from:

    • contracts from central or local government to deliver services?

    • grants from central or local government?

  • Does your charity have a policy on paying its staff?

  • Has your charity reviewed its financial controls during the reporting period?

Charities, their trustees and advisers are encouraged to read the online guidance provided before logging on to complete the annual return so that they know what information they need to submit. Charities have ten months from their financial year end to complete the annual return.

Sarah Atkinson, Director of Policy and Communications at the Charity Commission said:

Charities will recognise that the public’s appetite for information about where their money comes from, and how they use it, is growing. It is therefore vital for charities to provide the regulator with up to date information. Completing the annual return is about meeting both your legal responsibilities and the expectations of the public – there’s no excuse.

As well as improving transparency, I hope the new questions will also promote good governance by prompting trustees to consider carefully their charity’s financial controls and the basis for setting staff pay.

The commission is reminding charities that it is getting tougher on those that fail to file annual returns and accounts on time. The commission has just updated its class inquiry into charities who have failed to file their annual returns and accounts on time more than once. There are currently 26 charities under investigation.


PR 14/15

Notes to editors

  1. The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales.
  2. Our mission is to be the independent registrar and regulator of charities in England and Wales, acting in the public’s interest, to ensure that:
    • charities know what they have to do
    • the public know what charities do
    • charities are held to account

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