The Charity Commission for England and Wales (CCEW) has recently undertaken a review of a sample of charities accounts. The report published on 28 August 2019 starts with the following comment:-
“The auditors and independent examiners’ of charity accounts are our second line of defence, after the Trustees, against mismanagement in charities. We rely on them to scrutinise the accounts that the Trustees have appointed them to audit or examine and to report to us any significant concerns that they identify in the course of their work. However, the results of our annual survey of the quality of charity accounts show that some auditors and examiners are failing to identify significant failing in the accounts that they are reviewing.”
The CCEW have published a benchmark of Minimum Standards and it was this that was used when reviewing the accounts.
The results were disappointing particularly the £25,000 to £250,000 income group where only 37% met the external scrutiny benchmark. Although the accounts are the responsibility of the Trustees, Auditors and Independent Examiners should be reviewing them for compliance.
In times of increased funding difficulties it is important that the accounts available to funders are accurate. Many Funders will be put off making grants to charities with accounts that are incomplete or contain errors.
It is important when appointing an Independent Examiner that Trustees ensure they understand charities and the reporting requirements.
The Association of Charity Independent Examiners (ACIE) is the only membership organisation that exists solely for Independent Examiners in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Members are able to act for charities subject to restrictions on income levels depending on their experience and ability. Training courses are provided by ACIE to improve the quality of their work and to meet charity needs.
The preparation and scrutiny of charity accounts is a specialist area. For Independent Examiners membership of ACIE will help you achieve and maintain standards looked for by the CCEW (and Commissions in Scotland and Northern Ireland) through support, training and advice which is available.
There will be news of new training events shortly.
The Association of Charity Independent Examiners
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