In 2015 the Charity Commission issued a report on ‘Public benefit reporting by charities’, which sought to identify shortcomings in the quality of public benefit reporting. The Engineering Council’s Privy Council and Governance Panel (PCGP) studied this report and, having reflected on the implications for professional engineering institutions and carried out a preliminary review of institutions’ Annual Reports and Accounts, issued a Guidance Note on Public Benefit to institutions in January 2016, which is intended to complement the formal Charity Commission guidance.
The requirement for registered charities to be able to demonstrate that they provide public benefit and maintain a robust charitable purpose became an increasingly important discussion point throughout 2015. After the Charity Commission issued its report on public benefit reporting, the PCGP review found that while many institutions were publishing appropriate statements, some were not and others were potentially not showing their public benefit credentials prominently enough. The Engineering Council's Board agreed that, where appropriate, institutions should be asked to reflect on the statements contained both on their websites and in their Annual Report and Accounts, to avoid the risk of the wider institutions’ charitable status being called into question. The resulting PCGP guidance note is available on the Engineering Council’s extranet.