Trustees of charities many of whom are already using London Registrars’ risk and compliance services will be interested to hear that a new version of the Charity Commission’s guidance document geared to their needs, The essential trustee, has now been issued.

The guidance is relevant to every charity trustee in England and Wales, with the independent charity regulator stating that it had been released to “give trustees more confidence”. The guidance provides trustees with information on what is expected of them by the regulator, outlining their responsibilities. It is also one of the most widely read and used commission guidance documents on the GOV.UK website.

The new version of the document is intended to help trustees to better understand their key legal duties, so that they can avoid the basic mistakes that can have serious consequences for many charities. This has motivated the production of a clearer, shorter guidance document that provides links to other guidance, in addition to setting out lessons from the work of the commission. Trustees are also given a quick at-a-glance summary.

It is hoped by the commission that trustees will feel more confident about the fulfilment of their responsibilities as a result of their use of the essential trustee guide, and will be in a better position to make decisions as a team. The guidance also serves as the standard against which many trustees – including those who may not presently be taking their legal duties sufficiently seriously – are measured.

Presentation of the guidance took place at a public meeting in Birmingham on 9th July, where almost 100 charity trustees, staff and professionals were in attendance. As the commission’s Chairman, William Shawcross stated at the meeting: “Trustees are the backbone of charities; without their tireless efforts many organisations would not achieve all that they do.

“We want trustees to feel confident in knowing what their duties are and empowered to carry them out. I hope this new clearer guidance will help them do just that.”

Meanwhile, Karl Wilding, Director of Public Policy at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) commented: “Being a trustee is a serious responsibility, so it’s important that people are equipped with the right tools to help them. This document should be one of the very first things all trustees read.”

The document’s publication follows consultation with trustees and charity sector bodies through surveys and workshops, with the commission stating that it had made adjustments as a result of feedback received from respondents. The essential trustee is now available on the GOV.UK website for perusal by interested charity trustees.