The Charities Act (NI) 2008 came into being in September 2008 after several years of consultation and unforeseen delays. One of the key provisions from this new legislative framework is the establishment of the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland which was founded in 2009 as a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Social Development.
The Commission, as the regulator of all charities operating in Northern Ireland, has the following objectives:
- The public confidence objective - to increase public trust and confidence in charities.
- The public benefit objective - to promote awareness and understanding of the operation of the public benefit requirement.
- The compliance objective - to promote compliance by charity trustees with their legal obligations in exercising control and management of the administration of their charities.
- The charitable resources objective - to promote the effective use of charitable resources.
- The accountability objective - to enhance the accountability of charities to donors, beneficiaries and the general public.
Charity Commission for Northern Ireland’s current powers
To date, the Commission has been granted its powers of regulation, investigation and enforcement over all charities which are currently recognised for tax purposes by HMRC, as well as those that will register with the Commission in due course.
The Commission is currently carrying out the following functions:
Powers which will soon be implemented
The Register of Charities is due to be established before the end of 2013. The Commission is now preparing to register charities and will call forward new charities and those on the deemed list. For more information, please see charitable status and charity registration.
The Commission is planning its monitoring programme which includes the consultation on interim reporting arrangements for the receipt of annual accounts and reports of registered charities, as well as the objectives of its monitoring programme, and the content of the annual monitoring return. This is due to effect from 1 April 2014.
Please see NICVA’s dedicated charity law reform webpage for the latest information on new charity regulations.