ICAS Charities Panel: who we are and what we do
Welcome to a new series of updates for 2018 from the ICAS Charities Panel – all part of a new communications initiative to support ICAS members who work for, advise, assist charities or indeed are charity trustees themselves.
Many of the UK’s charities are fortunate enough to have the assistance of an ICAS member. We are aware that ICAS members who are involved in the sector have two or even three roles so invariably our members will be advising charities but also assisting or volunteering for others.
The ICAS Charities Panel, which has members with a broad range of experience and expertise, wishes to support the wider ICAS Charities Community, i.e. those members engaged with charities, so that they can effectively support UK charities, its beneficiaries and ultimately wider society.
The ICAS Charter requires us to act primarily in the public interest and how better to achieve this than to support the charity sector in delivering the optimum public benefit. Given the growing significance of charities to the UK economy and to the delivery of public services, ICAS and its members have significant roles to play.
Our remit is to influence developments in charity accounting, assurance and regulation and to influence public policy where we can do so effectively. By taking this approach, we aim to ensure that our members have access to the latest information about developments in charity accounting, finance and wider governance and risk matters.
We appreciate that our members fall into three significant camps:
- Those acting as trustees of charities.
- Those working for charities.
- Those advising charities in the capacity of auditors or independent examiners, including voluntary independent examiners.
Charities Panel members are very conscious that the role of charity trustee has developed significantly in recent years. Trustees now need to develop a broad range of skills to meet their legal duties and run their charity effectively: risk management; finance; IT; HR; governance; and general regulation and compliance to name but a few of the areas.
We are also aware that having a CA on the board often brings with it unrealistic and unfairly high expectations from other board members. This has to be recognised by the CA involved and it can be very onerous for him or her to manage this perception.
The Panel has been spending a lot of time considering how we can assist or signpost issues to members in each for the three camps, in a comprehensive manner to maintain and improve standards across the sector.
With such a wide range of issues the ICAS Charities Panel itself is represents a very broad of interests. As you can see from our Panel members’ list, we have CAs in practice, auditors and independent examiners. We have finance directors of charities, a management /general consultant and IT adviser to charities and we have a specialist charity lawyer.
We also engage the expertise of the ICAS Pensions Panel, with whom we work closely. John Moffat, the Panel’s Chair and David Davison of Spence & Partners to name but two of that Panel have expertise on how pension matters impact on charities, for example, the on-going challenges for charities participating in multi-employer defined benefit schemes.
Both the Pensions and Charities Panels are supported to a high technical standard by Christine Scott, our ICAS Head of Charities, who keeps us all on track. We also receive support from across ICAS from Charlotte Barbour, ICAS Director of Taxation and her Team; as well as Alasdair Millar of the ICAS Regulatory Monitoring Team. We, therefore, harness expertise within ICAS in a proactive way to benefit charities and the charity sector across the UK.
During 2018, we will be issuing monthly updates from members of the ICAS Charities Panel and the wider ICAS team to promote ongoing dialogue and lively discussions on current issues relevant to the sector. These will cover our key policy positions for the year as detailed below:
- Maintaining high-quality accounting requirements for charities.
- Supporting charities to manage their pension liabilities effectively.
- Promoting effective risk-based monitoring in the sector by the UK charity regulators.
- Improving the overall quality of governance and stewardship in charities UK-wide.
- VAT- equity for charities.
- Promoting the preventative spend agenda in public finances.
Please give us your feedback and share your experiences of assisting charities, either by commenting on articles on the ICAS website or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, so that we can shape our Charities Panel discussions.
We would also welcome your time and support in responding to consultations as these arise, from, for example: HMRC; the Scottish Government; UK charity regulators; and the Financial Reporting Council. We look forward to receiving your insights.