Charity Commission issues Official Warning to trustee of housing charity
Warning should signal a turning point for Expectations (UK), says regulator, as new trustees are appointed.
The Charity Commission, the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, recently (5 February 2019) issued an Official Warning to a trustee of Expectations (UK) (registered charity number 1152491) due to a breach of trust and legal duties.
The charity, which operates in Birmingham to provide social housing accommodation and assistance, has been subject to a regulatory compliance case since August 2017 due to concerns about its governance and the viability of the charity.
The Official Warning, issued under section 75A of the Charities Act 2011 comes after the trustee, Mr Blanchette, failed to cooperate with the Commission and failed to comply with two formal Action Plans previously issued.
The Commission is concerned by serious governance issues within the charity and has advised of the need to strengthen the board to bring additional skills and expertise into the charity.
The Commission’s previous advice required the trustee to provide a business plan as evidence of its short and long term financial viability to provide the service and manage debts. Despite several requests, that plan was not provided until the Commission took steps to impose the Official Warning.
The regulator is also concerned about decision-making around an emergency loan provided by a company whose director is an associate of a former trustee. The decision to accept the loan was not documented, and so it is unclear whether the conflict of interest and/or loyalty was identified and properly managed.
The charity is also in breach of its statutory duty to file an annual return and accounts for the financial years ending March 2016 and March 2017. It has also provided the Commission with information that was inconsistent with that provided to another regulator also engaged with the charity.
The Commission is encouraged to see that steps have been taken to address its governance concerns, and that 5 new trustees have recently been appointed to the charity’s board.
Tracy Howarth, Head of Regulatory Compliance at the Charity Commission recently said:
The public, and those that rely on the vital support of charities, expect high standards of integrity and accountability from those that run charities. This trustee has failed to live up to those standards, exposing their charity to serious uncertainty and risk. This warning should serve as a reminder to all charity trustees that their work is of high importance, and that they will be held to account for compliance with their legal duties and regulatory advice.
In issuing the warning, the Commission has set out action that should be taken to address its regulatory concerns, including carrying out a governance review, filing the outstanding accounts; submitting a business plan to the Commission.
The Commission expects the newly appointed trustees to address its concerns as a matter of priority.
Tracy Howarth added:
We want to see all charities thrive, so I welcome the arrival of new trustees at Expectations UK. This should signal a watershed moment for the charity, and I expect the new board to take swift steps towards tightening its governance and management. Charity trustees should at all times consider the needs of their beneficiaries, and be driven by their charitable purpose and mission in everything they do.
The regulator will be engaging with the new trustees, as well as Mr Blanchette, as part of its ongoing case. Any further breaches of charity law or regulatory advice would be of serious concern to the Commission.
The Official Warning is published in full here.
Notes to editors:
- The power to issue charities or individuals with an Official Warning was granted by the Charities Act 2016. It is designed to ensure a charity or its trustees know that a breach, misconduct or mismanagement has taken place and that it needs to be rectified.
- An official warning is not a statutory direction. The Commission cannot use an official warning to direct trustees to take specific action. However, it must specify any action it considers the trustees or the charity should take to rectify the breach, misconduct or mismanagement. Furthermore, failure to remedy any breach specified in a warning can be used as evidence of misconduct or mismanagement including when considering whether to exercise other specified powers.
- Section 15(2) of the Charities Act 2011 gives the Commission the power to issue formal regulatory advice, including Action Plans, to trustees.
Press enquiries – office hours 0300 065 2123
Press enquiries – out of hours 07785 748787
Latest News from
Charity regulator encourages safer giving for Cyclone Idai Appeal22/03/2019 15:15:00
Charity Commission advises the public on donating safely to help people affected by Cyclone Idai.
Charity Commission inquiry into Khatme Nubuwwat Centre finds poor governance at the charity22/03/2019 09:05:00
A Commission investigation into reports of offensive literature on display at its premises has led to significant improvements in the charity’s governance.
Charity regulator removes two trustees for serious breaches of charity law19/03/2019 13:20:00
Charity Commission concludes its statutory inquiry into The Suyuti Institute.
How to give safely to charities11/03/2019 12:20:00
When you give to charity, make sure your donations reach the right causes.
Mismanaged charity shows signs of improvement following regulator's inquiry11/03/2019 09:20:00
Charity Commission reports on its inquiry into One Nation.
Charity Commission inquiry into the Ghulam Mustafa Trust finds misconduct and mismanagement at the charity08/03/2019 09:20:00
Charity dissolved and one trustee disqualified following investigation involving offensive online posting and lack of financial control.
Chair's speech to the Charity Commission Annual Public Meeting06/03/2019 16:20:00
In her speech given yesterday at the Commission APM in Manchester, Baroness Stowell calls on charities to meet public expectations, and help bridge divides in society.
CIPFA to remain as Charities SORP secretariat27/02/2019 12:20:00
CIPFA will continue to provide secretariat support for the Charities Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP).