Press release: Trustees seriously mismanaged charity for vulnerable adults

The Charity Commission (‘the Commission’) today published a report of its inquiry into Rebound Gateway Group (former registered charity, number 1141136) a removed charity (‘the charity’).

The Commission opened a statutory inquiry into the charity on 3 April 2012. The Commission was contacted by Doncaster Safeguarding Adults Board who had serious concerns regarding the activities of one of the charity’s trustees including alleged harassment of and misappropriation of money from beneficiaries.

The Commission’s inquiry was conducted alongside an investigation by Doncaster Safeguarding Adults Board. Their report highlighted particular concerns which related to the one of the trustees, a director and chief executive officer of the charity. The trustee was also a director of an associated company Rebound Doncaster Trading Ltd (‘RDTL’) a commercial company, which amongst its activities rented and ran a multi-occupancy property in Doncaster, for people with mental health issues.

The Commission’s investigation, which included an examination of the charity’s incomplete records, concluded that the charity was seriously mismanaged.

The charity appeared to have been run through the other company, RDTL. There was no clear distinction between payments being made to or by the charity and RDTL, which made it difficult to account for charitable funds, or be satisfied that funds had been applied properly. There were also serious concerns regarding the activities and personal conduct of the trustee concerned.

The trustee never responded to any requests to provide information or for requests for them to meet with the Commission.

The Commission considered using its powers under section 79 of the Charities Act 2011 to remove the trustee concerned as a trustee, which would have the effect of that trustee not being able to act a trustee of any charity in future. However as the charity was removed from the register (as it was dissolved at Companies House on 26 March 2013) the Commission was then unable to take any further action under its then powers. However, the Commission is taking steps to ensure it is alerted to and monitors the activities of the trustee concerned should they decide to be involved with or register a charity in future.

Michelle Russell, Director of Investigations, Monitoring and Enforcement at the Charity Commission, said:

This report highlights the importance of clarity and public transparency over what activities are truly run by a charity and what is run by a commercial body and the importance of good record keeping and audit trails when those relationships exist.

It is also a reminder to all trustees of what can happen in a charity where there is an individual who takes on excessive levels of control or dominance and others involved do not challenge or intervene. Every charity needs an effective trustee body which has control over the administration of the charity and acts as a whole, especially because all trustees are equal in responsibility. It is an important principle of charity law that trustees of a charity are collectively responsible for its proper management and that they should act together, in accordance with the requirements of their governing document and the law.

Further guidance about the obligations and responsibilities of trustees can be found in The essential trustee: what you need to know, what you need to do (CC3) which can be found on GOV.UK. Further details on what the Commission expects from charities that work with vulnerable people or children can be found in its guidance Safeguarding children and young people guidance.

The full report is available on GOV.UK.

PR 69/16

Notes to editors

  1. The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales. To find out more about our work, see our annual report.
  2. Search for charities on our online register.
  3. Details of how the Commission reports on its regulatory work can be found on GOV.UK.

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