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Serious incident reporting for charities

Reporting a modified audit or independent examination opinion as a serious incident to the relevant UK charity regulator.

The UK charity regulators’ revised guidance on matters of material significance includes as a reportable matter the issuing of a modified audit opinion or qualified independent examiners report. This requirement has been in place from the introduction of the revised matters, from 1 May 2017.

This requirement is the eighth of the nine reportable matters. The text states as follows.

“On making a modified audit opinion, emphasis of matter, material uncertainty related to going concern to which attention is drawn, notification of the nature of the modification/qualification/emphasis of matter or concern with supporting reasons including notification of the action taken, if any, by the trustees subsequent to that audit opinion, emphasis of matter or material uncertainty identified/independent examiner’s report.”

Reporting a matter of material significance

Reports should be made to the jurisdiction where the charity is registered and where the accounts will be filed. These have the reporting requirements as follows:

England and Wales

In England and Wales there is a legal requirement for the reports to be made in writing.  

Reports should be made to Whistleblowing@charitycommission.gsi.gov.uk. The email should be headed “Matter(s) of material significance reported” and should provide the following information:

  • The reviewers name and contact address, telephone number and/or email address
  • The charity’s name and registration number
  • A statement that the report is made in accordance with section 156 of the 2011 Act
  • That the report is being made under the eighth heading of reportable matters
  • A description of the matter giving rise to concern and the information available on the matter reported and, where possible, an estimate of the financial implications
  • Where the trustees are attempting to deal with the situation, a brief description of any steps being taken by trustees of which the examiner has been made aware
  • If the report concerns terrorist, money laundering or other criminal activity, whether you have notified the National Crime Agency and/or the Police as appropriate
  • If the report concerns the abuse of vulnerable beneficiaries, whether you have informed the police and/or social services

Northern Ireland

There is a legal requirement in Northern Ireland for the reports to be in writing.

Reports should be made to concernsaboutcharities@charitycommissionnni.gov.uk. The email subject line should include reference to reporting matters of material significance. The report should include information regarding the following:

  • The party reporting and the charity
  • An explanation of the issue(s) of concern
  • Identification of any supporting evidence regarding the matter under report
  • A method of contact to follow up on the information received

Scotland

There is no legal requirement to put the report in writing in Scotland but it is strongly encouraged.

Reports should be made to Section46@oscr.org.uk. The email subject line should include reference to reporting matters of material significance. The report should include information regarding the following:

  • The party reporting and the charity
  • An explanation of the issue(s) of concern
  • Identification of any supporting evidence regarding the matter under report
  • A method of contact to follow up on the information received