The Charity Commission issues first official warning

29 August 2017

The National Hereditary Breast Cancer Helpline has received the Charity Commission’s first official warning. The power to issue official warnings, a low level regulatory intervention, was introduced by the Charities Act 2011 and came in to effect on 1 November 2016. Official warnings are issued to: 

  • help secure compliance by the trustees with their duties;
  • protect public trust and confidence in the charity or in charities more widely;
  • highlight a regulatory issue to the wider sector;
  • promote transparency;
  • protect potential donors.  

The National Hereditary Breast Cancer Helpline was randomly selected for closer scrutiny, after which it was concluded that the charity and its assets had been exposed to undue risk through a lack of financial controls. The compliance case report highlighted that the chair was being paid for “work undertaken running the charity’s operations” yet was the only signatory on the charity’s bank accounts (so they were essentially the individual was “authorising payments to themselves”). The charity had also received loans from a trustee without a formal agreement or repayment schedule.

The compliance report led to an action plan being issued, with which the charity did not fully. In light of this, a year later the official warning was issued along with a detailed list of what the charity need do to prevent further breaches implement.

The Charity Commission continue to monitor the work of the charity and said that the trustees have taken up some action already. Interestingly the existence of the Official Warning is not evident from the Charity Commission register.

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