An independent examination is required for charitable organisations whose annual income is over £25,000 but not more than £1 million given gross assets (fixed assets plus current assets) are £3.26 million or less (below the audit threshold).
For charities not subject to statutory audit, an examination undertaken by Burton Sweet offers the bedrock of confidence you must provide to your funders, donors, beneficiaries and wider public. This is essentially a smaller-scrutiny of record accounts and records.
If you would like to better understand the difference between an independent examination and an audit, please check out this information produced by the Institute of Chartered Accountants. Want further clarification on independent examinations? Please take a look at this government guide for Trustees.
What is the purpose of an independent examination?
As a Trustee of a charitable organisation, you must provide annual financial reports and accounts to an independent party (an accountancy firm), who cannot be influenced by a relationship to the organisation or any of its Trustees. The purpose of this is to give the charity’s Trustees, supporters, beneficiaries and the wider public, some objective assurance that the charity’s money and records have been managed properly.
The process involves:
- The examiner reviewing the records kept by your charity and comparing them to the accounts.
- The examiner reviewing the accounts and considering only items and/or disclosures that seem unusual, based on our expectations.
Why choose Burton Sweet to carry out your independent examination?
Expertise and experience
With our sector specialism and thorough understanding of the sector, the Burton Sweet team are well placed to provide the rigour and insight that you need to ensure your reports and accounts tell your story well.
We offer a breadth of support that is unique amongst our competitors. Our experienced and knowledgeable charities team ensure our clients feel confident and up-to-date, so they follow best-practice reporting and meet evolving requirements. We pride ourselves on building a full understanding of the charities we work with and what they need from us.
Formed 25 years ago, our Charities and Civil Society team currently works with over 170 clients of varying sizes, from small volunteer-managed community groups to major charities, engaging in a wide variety activity. Our clients are involved in areas including the arts, heritage, healthcare, faith, community transport, education, rehabilitation, employment, environmental projects, recycling, housing and various local community projects.
The passion we have for this work is evidenced by the personal participation of many of our staff as charity volunteers and Trustees, outside of their professional roles.
‘As quality assurance partner in a previous role, I have seen what “good” looks like in a professional service firm. Therefore, I can highly recommend Burton Sweet as professional, sensibly priced and very responsive advisors. Their major strength is in the combination of specialist accounting and legal expertise they can provide, with a range of well-informed experts and advisors within their not-for-profit department.’ – Richard Sandwell, Trustee of The Matthew of Bristol Trust
Meet our charities team
Cecile Gillard LLB (Hons) – A specialist in this field and charity lawyer, Cecile advises on a range of legal, governance and constitutional issues. Cecile is a member of the Charity Law Association and is a co-tutor for the Chartered Institute of Governance. She has a number of published titles including Charity Checklists and How to Run a Charity.
Ed Marsh BSc (Hons) FCA DChA – With extensive and varied experience, Ed has a thorough knowledge of the sector and is Head of Charity Development at Burton Sweet. In a personal capacity, he is a Trustee and active volunteer with three local charities and holds the respected Diploma in Charity Accounting, awarded by the ICAEW to demonstrate excellence in charity matters.
Josh Kingston BSc (Hons) ACA – As Director at Burton Sweet, as well as Charities Partner, Josh leads the team. He spent six months in Nigeria, serving a non-government organisation, where he provided accountancy support and training for local staff. Out of office, Josh is a Trustee of a charity that supports widows and orphans oversees as well as volunteering with initiatives closer to home.
Wider support for charities
In fulfilling their duties and responsibilities, Trustees may require further professional help in a range of areas at various stages of the charity’s development. In line with this, we provide assistance, not only in accounting and tax issues, but also in the areas of charity law and public benefit, governance and constitutions. Additional services include:
- In house legal expertise, unique amongst our competitors
- Regular, free (or low cost) training opportunities, including seminars/webinars, to inform about the latest legal and regulatory changes in the charity sector
- Training and development for boards on a diverse range of topics, including: core duties of boards, public benefit, responsible investment and the application of The Governance Code
- Assistance with accounting systems
- Advice and help on trading, social enterprise and fundraising activities
- Supporting entity formation, charity incorporation, constitutional change and governing document reviews, including correspondence with charity regulators on your behalf
- Formation of trading subsidiaries and advice on setting charity group governance and processes up for success
- Gift Aid compliance audits
- Facilitation and review of risk management and adherence to fundraising standards
- Reviews of the validity of fund designations and reserves policies
- Public benefit reviews and advice on fee charging
- Corporation Tax and VAT advice for charities. Complex VAT cases are usually addressed with the involvement of an external charity VAT consultant
If you would like to discuss independent examinations with us, or receive a quote, please click the button below to enquire…
We will look at the requirements of your organisation closely, then advise you accordingly, ensuring that you will receive the services best tailored to your needs.