Governance during the COVID-19 lockdown

We know that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has forced many local charities, organisations and groups to change how they usually operate, with many suspending their operations for the duration of lockdown. However, even during this unprecedented time, your trustees still need to be able to make collective decisions and govern your organisation effectively. This may involve holding virtual board meetings and using electronic communication. 

Below we have listed the most frequent questions we have been asked about governance during current lockdown. 

Get in touch with us directly if you have a question or concern that has not been asked here.



Are organisations still required to submit annual accounts?

Yes, OSCR and Companies House still require annual returns as normal. Companies House have added some amendments to filing these.

What happens if our company cannot file accounts on time?

If you think the impact of COVID-19 will cause delays in filing your company accounts, you can apply for an automatic 3 month extension. You must apply before your filing deadline.

Can we still send paper documents to Companies House?

Yes, however these are taking longer to process than usual. Where possible, use Companies House online services to help them process your information as quickly as possible.
You can now use their emergency filing service to upload and submit a small selection of documents. As this service is updated, it will include more document types and features. This service will only be available for a selection of paper documents that do not already have an online option.

Do organisations still need to hold regular Board/committee meetings?

Yes, meeting face-to-face is not going to be possible at the moment so holding meetings virtually will be a good option. Some charities have specific provisions in their governing documents to allow meetings to take place over the phone or using digital solutions. However, in the current situation, OSCR are happy that charities hold their meetings in this way even if the governing document doesn’t say anything about this. This will allow charity trustees to have important discussions and to take decisions at this difficult time. Where you decide to take this virtual route, you should record that they have done this, demonstrating good governance of your charity.

Are organisations still required to hold an AMG?

Yes. The COVID-19 pandemic is going to have an impact on your ability to hold your AGM. This might make it difficult for you to finalise your annual report and accounts. Most charities will need to change the way they work during the outbreak. Decisions about how you can operate during this time need to be taken collectively by the charity trustees, where possible. Whilst decisions on the short term measures will need to be taken quickly, the impact on longer term operations also needs to be carefully considered.
Major decisions and changes need to be recorded and advice taken where necessary.
Wherever possible, OSCR would ask you to try to get these in on time. All you need to do is log on to OSCR Online as usual and scan your report and accounts. However, they understand that it might be difficult for some and will take an understanding and proportionate approach to this and no charity in this situation will be penalised for being late.
There are lots of free and low cost options for virtual meetings. SCVO website have tips for virtual board meetings and remote working