Inquiry finds Doncaster charity ‘seriously mismanaged’

A Charity Commission investigation into the now-dissolved Rebound Gateway Group has concluded the charity was seriously mismanaged and identified a number of financial irregularities

The Doncaster-based charity was set up in 2010 to provide support for people with mental health difficulties. It registered with the Commission in April 2011, and a year later the Commission opened a statutory inquiry after the Doncaster safeguarding adults board raised concerns regarding the activities of one of the charity’s trustees including alleged harassment of and misappropriation of money from beneficiaries.

Investigations highlighted particular concerns which related to the one of the trustees, a director and the chief executive officer of the charity. The trustee was also a director of an associated company Rebound Doncaster Trading Ltd (RDTL) a commercial company, which among its activities rented and ran a multi-occupancy property in Doncaster for people with mental health issues.

The Commission’s investigation, which included an examination of the charity’s incomplete records, concluded that the charity was seriously mismanaged.

The charity appeared to have been run through the other company, RDTL. There was no clear distinction between payments being made to or by the charity and RDTL, which made it difficult to account for charitable funds, or be satisfied that funds had been applied properly. There were also serious concerns regarding the activities and personal conduct of the trustee concerned.

The commission was told by the former trustees that regular nominal cash payments of £30-£40 were provided by the charity’s beneficiaries, during May 2010 to September 2011, in payment for services provided to them at a centre which was run by the charity for the vulnerable adults. The payments were made directly to the trustee concerned but there was no record of any cash payments being banked by that trustee on behalf of the charity or how they were applied.

The trustee never responded to any requests to provide information or for requests for them to meet with the Commission.

The charity was dissolved at Companies House in March 2013 and removed from the Charity Commission register, which meant the Commission was then unable to take any further action under its then powers. However, the Commission says it is taking steps to ensure it is alerted to and monitors the activities of the trustee concerned should they decide to be involved with or register a charity in future.

Michelle Russell, director of investigations, monitoring and enforcement at the Charity Commission, said: ‘This report highlights the importance of clarity and public transparency over what activities are truly run by a charity and what is run by a commercial body and the importance of good record keeping and audit trails when those relationships exist.

‘It is also a reminder to all trustees of what can happen in a charity where there is an individual who takes on excessive levels of control or dominance and others involved do not challenge or intervene.’
Rebound Gateway Group inquiry report is here.

Pat Sweet |Reporter, Accountancy Daily [2010-2021]

Pat Sweet was the former online reporter at Accountancy Daily and contributor to the monthly Accountancy magazine, pub...

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