A report by the National Audit Office has criticised the Charity Commission for England and Wales for not regulating charities effectively.

The report ‘The Regulatory Effectiveness of the Charity Commission’ said that whilst the Commission carries out important and necessary work, it finds that there is a gap between what the public expects of the Commission and what it actually does.

The report found that the regulator used information poorly to assess risk and often relies solely on trustee’s assurances. It also criticised the regulator for making little use of its powers and for failing to take tough action in some of the most serious cases.

Amongst key recommendations, the National Audit Office spoke of the need for the Commission to think radically about alternative ways of meeting its objectives with constrained resources. The report also recommended the Commission make greater use of its statutory powers in line with its objectives of maintaining public confidence in the sector, and develop an approach to identify and deal with those few trustees who deliberately abuse charitable status.

Speaking about the findings, Amyas Morse Head of the National Audit Office said:

“The Charity Commission has responsibility for protecting the good name of the charity sector as a whole, as well as other specific duties. It is too passive in pursuing this objective and in making the case for the resources to allow it to do so effectively. We welcome the early plans for a reset of its approach and strategy being proposed by its new Board, and encourage them not to fall short of the radical change of pace and rigour which is evidently needed.”