Charity gateway page disclosures
HEFCE requires exempt charities to publish a gateway page. This is to make information about them easily available to the general public. This requirement is upheld in the Memorandum of Assurance and Accountability.
The gateway page must contain the following information:
- The legal name, preferred name and correspondence address of the university or higher education college.
- The main constitutional document of the higher education college (such as its Royal Charter, Memorandum and Articles, or Trust deed). This should be the latest version, but institutions should provide earlier versions back to at least the one that was in force in 2009-10.
- The names of the trustees on 31 January each year, together with a list of all other charities (if any) of which each trustee is then also a trustee.
- The full audited consolidated financial statements for at least five years.
The gateway web page should be easy to locate on the institution's website and must be updated with the previous year's information no later than six months after the end of the previous academic year.
To make this information more accessible we publish links to the gateway pages of higher education institutions in England on HEFCE's Register of providers. Institutions must provide HEFCE with the up-to-date web address (URL) of their gateway page so that third parties can access it via the Register.
Disclosures in the audited financial statements
Exempt charities who have HEFCE as their principal regulator must make a number of disclosures in their financial statements. These relate to the activities of the charity and how it has used its charitable funds and assets in delivering its charitable purposes.
Governance and accountability
Charities must provide:
- a statement about the institution’s charitable status and objectives
- a list of the trustees who have served at any time during the financial year and until the date the financial statements were formally approved
- a statement confirming whether the charity trustees have complied with their duty to have due regard to the guidance on public benefit published by the Charity Commission in exercising their powers or duties.
Public benefit reporting
Charities must include a report in their audited financial statements on how the trustees have delivered their charitable objectives for the public benefit during the financial year.
This does not need to be part of a separate public benefit report but the information can instead be included in the operating and financial review of the financial statements as appropriate. Whether to include the information as a separate report is a matter of preference for the charity.
However the charity chooses to present the information, the public benefit reporting must cover a number of areas. These are:
- details of the charity’s purposes and its strategic objectives
- a review of the significant activities undertaken by the charity to carry out its charitable purposes for the public benefit
- details of the strategies adopted and activities undertaken to achieve those purposes and objectives
- details of the achievements of the charity by reference to the purposes and objectives that the trustees have set.
Further information on public benefit reporting can be found in the Charity Commission guidance.
It is a general principle of charity law that trustees should not benefit personally from their trusteeship. Nevertheless, most charities have financial transactions with their trustees. These must be disclosed in the financial statements to ensure transparency in the use of charitable assets and the governance of the charity by its trustees. This will reduce the charity's reputation risk.
The disclosures are consistent with our duty to promote compliance by trustees with their obligations under charity law.
HEIs must provide notes to the financial statements that disclose information on payments to or on behalf of trustees, including:
- payments to trustees for serving as trustees:
- the amount, to the nearest pound, of all payments and other benefits to each (named) charity trustee who is not an employee of the HEI
- details of all waived entitlements to such payments and other benefits
- the legal authority for such payments and reason for remuneration
- if there are no such payments, an express statement to that effect.
- expenses paid to trustees:
- the total amount of expenses paid to or on behalf of the trustees, in their duties as trustees, as a whole rounded to the nearest £1,000
- the nature of the various expenses
- the number of trustees involved
- if there are no such expenses, an express statement to that effect
- it is not necessary to include routine expenditure on services provided for the trustees collectively, such as room hire or reasonable refreshments at meetings.
- related party transactions involving trustees irrespective of whether or not they are undertaken on an arm’s length basis:
- the name of the transacting related party or parties
- a description of the relationship between the parties (including the interest of the related party or parties in the transaction)
- a description of the transaction
- the amounts involved.
HEIs should avoid statements that transactions have taken place, but are carried out on arm's-length terms.
HEI governing bodies usually include one or two current students who are often trustees of the independent students' union (SU) at the HEI. Transactions between the HEI and the SU are therefore disclosable as related party transactions.
Related parties of HEIs' trustees will also need to be included in these disclosures, in accordance with normal practice.
Connected (paragraph 28) charities
The exempt charities that HEFCE regulates often set up further charities that:
- were set up for or on behalf of the institution
- are administered by the institution
- have charitable purposes under the Charities Act 2011 and apply these purposes for the public benefit.
Where these criteria are met, the charity may also be an exempt charity under paragraph 28 of Schedule 3 of the Charities Act 2011. These charities fall under HEFCE as principal regulator and were formerly known as paragraph (w) charities.
In order to discharge our duty as principal regulator in a proportionate way, we ask each HEI include information about its connected charities in its own financial statements – this enables transparency and accountability of these charities while applying a measured regulatory burden.
HEFCE does not maintain a list or register of the paragraph 28 charities, but requires HEIs to maintain their own register and to make this available if requested.
For each paragraph 28 charity that has income in the year of £100,000 or more, the institution must disclose the following in its financial statements:
- its name and charitable purpose – the purpose must be one of the charitable purposes outlined in the Charities Act 2011 and must be applied for the public benefit.
- the opening balance, income and expenditure for the year, and closing balance.
For all other paragraph 28 charities (that is, those that have income in the year of less than £100,000), the institution must disclose the following in its financial statements:
- an analysis into appropriate groups (for example, prize funds, bursary or scholarship funds, research support funds) stating the number of entities in each group
- for each group: the aggregate opening balances, income and expenditure for the year, closing balances.
(Note: the terms ‘opening balance’ and ‘closing balance’ should be interpreted as total reserves where the paragraph 28 charity is an operating charity.)