Changes to Charity Law
Charity Commission website
Please Click Here to view the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland's updated website.
Amendment to Charities Act
A Charities Amendment Bill has been proposed to address technical issues surrounding the public benefit test. Registration of charities will not commence until this goes through. Timeframe is still unclear.
What's been happening?
Please note this section is UNDER REVIEW. For the most up to date information on Charity Law visit NICVA’s Charity Law Reform Page.
The provisions of the Charities Act are being implemented in stages. Some changes have already taken place, but further details of the process have yet to be made public.
Key changes to monitor include:
Release of Public Benefit Guidance (delayed until Charities Act is amended)
Registration of Charities (delayed until Charities Act is amended)
First financial returns (were expected April 2011)
The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland is now established. This body was created under the Charities Act (NI) 2008. In summary, its purposes are to:
- establish a compulsory register of all charities operating in Northern Ireland
- provide a test to determine which groups are charities
- establish new requirements for public collections
- better regulate, supervise and support charities in Northern Ireland.
For more information on the role and responsibilities of the Charity Commission, go to the Charity Commission's website.
This Guidance will determine the measure by which the Commission determines which groups are charities.
Public consultations were carried out in Autumn 2009. It was expected to be finalised by the end of June 2010, in time for commencement of charity registration, however there have been further delays following legal advice on the draft Guidance. The Charities Act will now need to be amended. The Commission will provide information and publish guidance on public benefit before opening for registrations.
Registration of new charities and publication of Guidance on the Public Benefit Test have been postponed due to a legal technicality. The Charities Act will now need to be amended, but the timeframe for this remains unclear. Organisations seeking charitable status for the first time should apply to HMRC until the registration process is activated.
Once the registration process is set up, all organisations wishing to operate as a charity within Northern Ireland will be required to register with the Charity Commission NI.
Please keep checking the new Charity Commission website (click here to view) for the release of a timetable indicating how this will be managed. The key points to note are as follows:
- Applying for charitable status for the first time? CCNI registration should have commenced from 30 June 2010. Instead, new organisations should use the existing process and apply to HMRC for charitable status and tax benefits. This list will be transferred to CCNI.
- Already have charitable status? Organisations already holding HMRC tax status have been transferred to a temporary list which should soon be available from the Charity Commission NI's website. Once registration commences, they will be contacted in stages and asked to register with CCNI. In the meantime, they can continue to operate as a charity.
- Up to date information will appear on this page, once available.
The Charities Act established accounting thresholds and audit requirements for charities in Northern Ireland. The first financial returns and reports to the Commission were scheduled for April 2011, but again may be delayed. Further details will be available here once released.
For guidance on the provisions of the Charities Act (NI) 2008, go to NICVA's Charity law reform page
For more information, visit the Charity Commission's website