QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
ACIE is pleased to receive technical queries from members that, where possible, will be referred to one of our specialist advisers (queries are best sent by email to email@example.com. In some cases, where we feel the issue is likely to be of wider interest, and with the consent of the member concerned we may publish an anonymised/edited summary of the query and the ACIE response. Please note that comments provided in response to members’ queries are given on an ‘as is basis’: ACIE hopes they are helpful but they do not constitute professional advice.
Below are some of the questions asked between 2020 and 2022. Responses were by Professor Gareth Morgan, of Kubernesis.
If the trustees cannot produced any minutes for a whole year, this is quite a serious matter. I would be cautious about your statement "It doesn't have an impact on the figures in the report itself and I am satisfied that the figures are correct" because if there are no minutes, how can you be sure that the expenditure was properly approved?In the joint guidance issued by CCEW/OSCR/CCNI in 2017 on when IEs should exercise their reporting dues, one of the criteria (item 2) was: failure(s) of internal controls, including failure(s)in charity governance that resulted in, or could give rise to, a material loss or misappropriation of charitable funds, or which leads to significant charitable funds being put at major risk. You do not say what is the legal structure, but most charity governing documents require minutes to be kept. In my view, if there are NO minutes of trustees meeting, it would be a "significant failure of governance" in terms of the definitions above, and it could well put significant charitable funds at risk if there is no effective control of financial decisions by the trustees.You may want to refer to section 156 of the Charities Act 2011 regarding the whistleblowing duty. If you feel the lack of minutes is just an administrative hiccup and that no charitable funds are at risk this may not be serious enough to require mandatory reporting under s.156(2) but in my view it would certainly be enough to justify discretionary reporting under s.156(4). Of course you need to give the charity a reasonable chance to sort things out - e.g if there has been a misunderstanding about why you need the minutes. But if you have asked a couple of times and if you suspect that regular trustees meetings are simply not happening, or if you feel that the meetings that take place are so casual that no written record is made, I feel that is a matter to report to the CC.
Accounting for branches which then become separate charities: although the member’s query related to churches, the issue would apply to any type of charity setting up new branches which then become separate charities. The comments in this answer would apply across all UK jurisdictions. The question related to SORP accounting, but the broad principles here would but the broad principles here would also apply with R&P accounts. The query was broken down into four elements.