23 February 2018
Following a number of serious incidents involving Oxfam and other charities, the Charity Commission has issued guidance on safeguarding to strengthen public trust and confidence in charities.
A summit on safeguarding in the UK has been announced which will be co-chaired by the Minister for Civil Society, Tracey Crouch MP. The summit is to be a jointly held by DfID and the Charity Commission for charities and umbrella bodies working in the UK. They expect charities to give safeguarding top priority and ensure that trustees meet their legal duties, and public expectations, around this.
Recent revelations demonstrate how a few bad apples can damage the charities reputation and place extra risks on funding despite the amazing work of the many. The new Charity Commission taskforce has therefore been established to handle the increased volume of safeguarding serious incident reports. The team carry out proactive work to ensure prompt and full reporting of serious safeguarding incidents, and giving advice to charities. They are also undertaking a ‘deep dive’ of existing serious incident report to ensure gaps are identified.
Safeguarding should be a key governance priority for all charities, not just those working with groups traditionally considered at risk. The Commission has issued the alert to remind trustees of their duties in this respect.
Key safeguarding information available includes:
- Annual report on compliance case work published in February 2018 – report highlights growing case work involving safeguarding issues, and reminds charities to prioritise safeguarding in their charities.
- Safeguarding strategy updated in December 2017: the new strategy makes clear that safeguarding is a key governance priority for all charities, not just those working with groups traditionally considered vulnerable. It also says charities must “provide a safe and trusted environment which safeguards anyone who comes into contact with it including beneficiaries, staff and volunteers”.
- Safeguarding alert issued in December 2017 warning charities to a) report incidents now if they have failed to in the past and b) review their safeguarding policy and procedures if they have not done so in the last 12 months. The Commission will reissue that alert to all charities emphasising the importance of full and frank disclosure.
- Safeguarding alert issued in October 2017 to newly registered veterans charities, following a proactive case-working project which highlighted concerns around safeguarding in some newly registered military charities.
- Guidance on reporting serious incidents – updated in September 2017. This followed a consultation with charities. In publishing the new guidance, the Commission highlighted its concerns that charities continue to underreport incidents.”
Trustees are advised to review their charity’s safeguarding governance and management arrangements and to contact the Charity Commission about any safeguarding issues which have not yet been disclosed to them.
If you have any questions about safeguarding or the steps you can take to protect your beneficiaries and those who come into contact with your charity, please contact your usual UHY adviser or nearest UHY charity specialist.