UK charity regulators consult on revised guidance for auditors and independent examiners on their whistleblowing duties

By Christine Scott, Assistant Director, Charities and Pensions

14 June 2016

The Scottish charity regulator, OSCR, is leading a consultation on the whistleblowing duties of auditors and independent examiners on behalf of all UK charity regulators.

OSCR, the Charity Commission for England and Wales and the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland are seeking views on revised guidance on ‘Reporting matters of material significance to a UK charity regulator’.

Under charity law in Scotland, England and Wales and Northern Ireland, auditors and independent examiners have a duty to report matters of material significance to the charity regulator.  Separate legislation is in place in each jurisdiction but it is sufficiently similar to make UK wide guidance a viable option and desirable especially as there are a number of charities which operate in more than jurisdiction. However, the legislation does not provide a definition of ‘material significance’, hence the need for additional guidance.

The UK regulators have worked together to revise the existing guidance, which was produced by OSCR and the Charity Commission for England and Wales, to refine the current list of matters of material significance in light of experience.

The revised guidance sets out eleven matters which the charity regulators view as being of material significance.  The main changes to the existing list are as follows:

Matter deleted

  • The notification on ceasing to hold office or resigning from office of those matters reported to the charity’s trustees.

This matter is being deleted on the grounds it could be interpreted as having to report to the Regulator merely when a term of appointment comes to an end.

Matters added

  • Notification of the issue of a non-standard auditor’s or independent examiner’s report on the annual accounts and the reason for issuing the non-standard report.
  • The notification of any failure by the charity’s trustees to comply with any recommendations made following completion of the previous year’s audit or independent examination.
  • The notification of any conflicts of interest which have not been properly managed by the trustees and failure to report related party transactions in full in the annual accounts.

The additional matters are designed to more closely reflect matters which may arise during the course of an audit or independent examination.

It is important to note that these changes are designed to clarify rather than reduce or extend the duty to report.  In providing this clarification, the charity regulators hope that auditors and independent examiners will report matters at an earlier stage or report matters more often than previously.

If you would like to contribute to the ICAS Charities Committee’s response to the consultation, please send your comments to me at by Monday 18 July.

The closing date for comments is Sunday 11 September 2016 and these can be emailed directly to the UK charity regulators at


  • Charities

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