Update from the Charity Commission
Cyber crime and how to report to the Charity Commission
Cybersecurity threats are constantly growing and often include theft of data or disruption of systems. The government Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2019 (www.gov.uk/government/statistics/cyber-security-breaches-survey-2019) revealed that over two thirds of high income charities had recorded a cyber breach or attack in 2018. Of those charities affected, the vast majority (over 80%) had experienced a phishing attack, which are fraudulent emails.
With the estimated cost of a breach ranging from £300 to £100,000 and the potential negative impact publicity could have on public trust and confidence in not only the charity affected, but the sector as a whole, all charities should be vigilant and ensure appropriate defences are in place.
How you can protect your charity
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has produced a useful guide on how to protect your organisation from cyber crimes. The Small Charity Guide – How to improve cyber security within your charity – quickly, easily and at low cost can be accessed at www.ncsc.gov.uk/collection/charity. It also explains how charities can become accredited under the government Cyber Essentials Scheme.
For larger charities, detailed advice for trustee boards on improving cyber security is available in the National Cyber Security Centre’s new Boards Toolkit which can be accessed at: www.ncsc.gov.uk/collection/board-toolkit
HM Government also provides timely advice and guidance through its website: www.ncsc.gov.uk/section/information-for/individuals-families
How to report cyber crime and fraud
If your charity has fallen victim to cyber crime, or any other type of fraud, you should report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, or by visiting the www.actionfraud.police.uk/.
Charities should also report fraud to the Charity Commission as a serious incident by visiting the following website: www.gov.uk/guidance/how-to-report-a-serious-incident-in-your-charity
The Charity Commission require prompt, full and frank disclosure of incidents. Serious incident reporting helps the Charity Commission to assess the volume and impact of incidents within charities, and to understand the risks facing the sector as a whole or to warn the wider sector about prevalent threats.
Where appropriate, the Charity Commission can also provide timely advice and guidance.
Baroness Stowell’s speech at Charity 2020
Baroness Stowell, Chair of the Charity Commission’s speech at Charity 2020 was published on 30 May 2019 by the Charity Commission and is an interesting read, outlining why charities need to change to fulfil their potential. The speech also highlights the growing gap between the public expectations of charities and the attitude and behaviour the public see in some charities.
Charity SORP must change to meet “new public expectations”, review panel says
The four charity regulators in the UK and Republic of Ireland held a governance review of the constitution and composition of the Charities Statement of Recommended Practice (‘SORP’) committee and the SORP making process.
The governance review was undertaken by an Oversight Panel during 2018 and early 2019 and included a public consultation. The Oversight Panel comprised a representative from each of the four regulators and an observer representative nominated by the Financial Reporting Council. The work of the panel was overseen by Professor Gareth Morgan, an independent Chair retained by the SORP-making body.
Published on 6 June 2019, its final report makes several recommendations which will be submitted to the charity regulators for consideration and response.
In summary, these recommendations are that:
- The needs of the wider public and beneficiaries require a refocusing of the SORP and greater simplification of reporting requirements for smaller charities
- The SORP Committee should be retained but reforms are needed regarding size, composition and clarification of the respective roles of the SORP-making body and SORP Committee.
- Broader and ongoing engagement is needed with a much wider group of stakeholders if the SORP is to continue to be fit for purpose.
- The sector and charity regulators should collaborate to identify and codify best practice in non-statutory financial reporting.
- The SORP-making body, supported by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) needs to ensure that the redesigned SORP development process takes effect.
- The charity regulators are asked to ensure that SORP process is adequately resourced to implement these recommendations.
The 36 recommendations will now be submitted to the charity regulators for consideration and response.
The full report is available at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/charities-sorp-governance-review-2018-to-2019
Charity Commission publishes its 2018 to 2019 annual report and accounts
The report sets out the Commission’s key activities, successes and challenges over the year, and highlights increases in demand on their core regulatory functions. This has been the Commission’s busiest year to date – largely accounted for through a 50% increase in reports by charities of serious incidents, concerns raised by whistleblowers and auditors, and a significant increase in the use of legal powers.
Helen Stephenson, CEO and Accounting Officer for the Charity Commission, said:
‘Public expectations of charity, and the role of charity in our society, are changing, and it is vital that charities change with it. As the regulator, we exist to serve the public interest, and are committed to ensuring everything we do helps charity thrive and inspire trust so that people can improve lives and strengthen society.
This year we have started to deliver on our ambitious new strategy under challenging circumstances, which include the growing demand on our core functions, making this the busiest year for us.
My priorities in the coming months will be to ensure we are customer-focused in all that we do and that we are giving trustees the tools they need to succeed in an ever-changing world. It is also to ensure we are properly resourced, so that our expert staff can make the significant progress outlined in our new strategy at the pace we believe is required.’