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CALL FOR BETTER ADMINISTRATION OF LOCAL AUTHORITY CHARITIES

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The standard of accounting and reporting by local authority charities is often unacceptably poor and must improve i...
The standard of accounting and reporting by local authority charities is often unacceptably poor and must improve in 2004-5. This was the message from the Charity Commission, the charity watchdog for England and Wales, to the CIPFA conference in Bournemouth today.

Simon Gillespie, director of operations at the commission, explained that nearly£300m worth of assets administered by local authorities are held for charitable purposes. These assets must be accounted for separately and local authorities must be aware that they need to be publicly accountable for the charitable funds they manage. Sometimes charitable and non-charitable assets are managed together and local authorities lose sight of which is which.

Local authorities should check their records to make sure they know which assets are held for charitable purposes. They should contact the Charity Commission in good time if they are contemplating selling, or changing the use of, those assets. They must also prepare, in accordance with the Charities SORP (Statement of Recommended Practice) an annual report and accounts for each charity they manage. The accounts must be audited or independently examined (depending on the income of the charity) and sent to the Charity Commission within ten months of the charity's financial year end.

Concluding his speech, Mr Gillespie expressed the hope that 'Local authorities will work with us to set a standard of excellence in the stewardship, reporting and accounting for charitable property and funds.'

Notes

1.The Charity Commission is the organisation responsible for the statutory regulation of charities in England and Wales.

2.CIPFA is the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy. Many of its members work for local authorities.

3.More detail can be found in Local Authority Accounting Panel (LAAP) Bulletin 58 here.

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