New charities’ Annual Return now available

Charity Commission launches the return for 2023 via My Charity Commission Account service.

The Charity Commission has launched the new Annual Return for 2023 (“AR23”). The question set reflects changes made following a formal consultation with charities and the public.

The new return is available to charities via the My Charity Commission Account service. It introduces a revised set of questions that will be used by charities for their financial years ending in 2023 and in subsequent years.

The updated question set has been available for charities to review since December 2022, enabling them to prepare to collate the necessary information. This followed a full consultation which ran between June and September 2022.

The Annual Return is the online form that all charities with yearly incomes of £10,000 or more complete within 10 months of the end of their financial reporting period. It must also be completed by all those registered as charitable incorporated organisations (CIOs).

The My Charity Commission Account service, described by the Commission as charities’ front door into its online services, was made available to users in July. The regulator has published guidance on how to set up a MCCA account.

Proportionate changes to ensure transparency and effective regulation

The updated question set is designed to help the regulator better assess risks facing the sector and enhance charities’ transparency.

Among the changes are new questions to better capture and understand charities’ reliance on certain types of income, and questions on single sources of funding, to gain more information on roles and responsibilities within charities, and to gain a more accurate picture of the geographical areas in which charities operate in England and Wales.

Simpler service for charities

The service is also designed to be more user-friendly and easier for charities to navigate.  The Commission has simplified the language of the questions, and the amount of information charities completing AR23 are required to provide varies based on the size and scope of the charity in question. Larger, more complex organisations, including those employing staff and/or working internationally will complete a greater number of questions than smaller charities whose operations are simple.

Similarly, the regulator has revised the questions that ask for data on volumes or monetary values, so that very few questions now ask for information that is over and above that which is collected by charities as part of their normal accounting processes.

The Commission also made a number of changes to the new question set following consultation with the sector, which ran between June and September 2022. Changes included introducing income thresholds to further questions, rewording questions to improve their clarity, and strengthening its guidance supporting charities to answer questions quickly and accurately.

Helen Stephenson, Chief Executive of the Charity Commission said:

“The Annual Return is important, it helps the Commission to identify risks and problems in the sector and it helps the public to make informed choice about charities. The new data we are gathering through AR23 will also support policy-makers, researchers, the sector, and the public to gain a more in-depth understanding of the nature and profile of charities in England and Wales.

“We have worked hard to ensure AR23 is proportionate, ensuring smaller charities do not face an excessive reporting burden. I am grateful to all who took part in last year’s consultation and encourage all charities to complete the return within their reporting deadline.”

The regulator has acknowledged that while most customers invited to sign-up to the My Charity Commission Account service have been able to do so, some are experiencing issues. The Commission has prepared guidance to help guide charities through the process which includes short videos. The Commission’s contact centre is very busy at this time, and it may not be possible to answer calls and emails as swiftly as usual. It is open from 9am-5pm and the regulator has laid on additional staff to help ensure callers can get through. Our telephone lines will however close to new calls from 4:30pm to allow us to reach customers who are already waiting.

Over 105,000 charities have now successfully onboarded to the new system.

Our Executive Members

By @Cobseo 54 years ago

Afghanistan support

In light of recent events in Afghanistan, please find information and support resources here