A quicker, slicker Annual Return form? Find out about the Charity Commission's proposed changes and take part in the consultation

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4 September, 2017


Fewer questions for smaller charities; tailored advice and updates; and a more proactive approach to dealing with common governance issues are amongst the expected perks of the Charity Commission’s proposed new Annual Return form.
Before the changes are implemented in January 2018, the Charity Commission is seeking the opinions of the general public and VCSE organisations - especially those that use its Annual Return service.
In changing the form, the Charity Commission intends to:
  • Minimise the amount of information smaller or less complex charities have to submit, with a possible increase in the number of questions for larger/more complex charities.
  • Adopt a more proactive approach to dealing with some of the issues that charities face, such as poor financial resilience or lack of appropriate contracts with third party (professional) fundraisers.
  • Find out whether it will cost charities money to gather this additional information, and whether it can already be found elsewhere.
What will change about the form?
One of the key changes is that charities will only need to upload standard data (their registered details, key activities and policies) once. They can then amend these details as and when something changes, using the new ‘Update Charity Details’ (UCD) service. When it comes to submitting the Annual Return form, charities should simply need to confirm that the currently held data is correct (or update if it is not).
The Update Charity Details (UCD) Service
  • This service will enable charities to update the Charity Commission all year round on changes to registered details, key activities and policies. 
  • The information provided will decide the quantity and type of questions charities will have to answer on the Annual Return form. This should mean smaller charities don’t have to provide as much information – larger charities will likely have to answer more questions than before.
  • The Charity Commission will also use this data to tailor its updates and alerts to each charity.
Additional questions
The Charity Commission is seeking feedback on the additional questions it is proposing to add to the Annual Return form. Whilst it envisages that these will only apply to larger/more complex charities that have capacity to cope with the increased burden, it is relying on VCSE organisations to highlight unintended consequences and suggest alternatives, where necessary. The additional questions are included in the survey and there is an opportunity to respond to each one, should you wish. The rationale for adding these questions is set out in the background document.
Why is the Charity Commission making these changes?
The Charity Commission is updating its Annual Return questions reflect its risk priorities which are: 
  • fraud and financial abuse 
  • public trust and confidence 
  • safeguarding 
  • terrorism and extremism 

They have designed the additional questions to help them tackle new regulatory risks as they emerge and strengthen the sector’s accountability.


2.  Complete the online survey (this takes around 30 minutes to complete).
The survey will close at 5pm on Friday, 24th November 2017.
There will also be other opportunities and methods for giving your feedback, including round table discussions with interested parties and user-testing of the proposed questions. The Charity Commission will publish details of these through the consultation period.
3.  Landing page for the consultation (includes futher information and resources)
4.  Submitting supplementary information
If you wish to supplement your responses with further detail or material, please send it by email to RegistrarandAssurance@charitycommission.gsi.gov.uk
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