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Homelessness charity probed over ‘serious concerns’

A homelessness charity is being investigated amid “serious concerns” over how its social media channels are handled.

The Charity Commission has launched a statutory inquiry into Humanity Torbay after complaints over political content on its social media pages.

Charities can undertake campaigning if it furthers their purpose but it must never be “party political”, the commission said.

The Charity Commission launched the inquiry on 9 June to examine whether the charity’s governance was “fit for purpose”.

It is looking at the trustees’ compliance with the regulations, after the commission said it had to get in touch with them several times in the past year.

It said that on these occasions the Devon charity “did not appear to comply with its guidance on campaigning and political activity” – which includes expressing independence “at all times”.

The commission issued formal advice on the need to keep personal political views separate, but further complaints arose about political content being shared on social media, including on Humanity Torbay’s Facebook page.

“The regulator is concerned that the trustees of Humanity Torbay do not have sufficient oversight or control of the charity’s social media content, which should only be used to promote the charity’s objects and services,” the statement said.

The investigation is also looking into how trustees managed the charity’s resources and finances, compliance with general legal duties and responsibilities after a previous report by an independent examiner highlighting concerns about accounting records.

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