Large charities lack transparency over public money, says Centre for Policy Studies

Many of the largest charities in England and Wales fail to be clear about how much public money they receive, and should be more transparent in the name of democratic accountability, according to a new report.

Transparency Begins at Home, published today by the right-leaning think tank the Centre for Policy Studies, looks at the 50 largest charities in England and Wales by incoming resources, the proportion of their income that comes from public sources and the proportion whose source cannot be identified from their accounts.

Of these top 50 charities, 32 indicate in their reports that they receive public money, but do not give a specific overall figure. In the case of two of those – the Trustees of the London Clinic and the examinations body AQA Education – the report says that more than 99 per cent of income might come from public sources, but this is not made clear by their accounts. There are a further four charities – St Andrew’s Healthcare, the Anchor Trust, Wakefield and District Housing and the Royal Mencap Society – where the unclear income is more than 90 per cent, and another nine where it is more than 50 per cent.

The report concludes that although these 50 charities declared a total of £3.1bn, or just under a quarter of their funds, as coming from public money, the amount of unclear income means that the true figure could be up to £6.5bn.

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