The registration of charities under the new Charities Act (NI) has been delayed according to an announcement on June 23 from The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland (CCNI).
Registration was expected to begin at the end of June, with the Diocese of Down and Dromore and the Representative Church Body among the first group to pilot the registration process.
Ms Frances McCandless, Chief Executive of The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, contacted the Church personally regarding the delay, which results from technical difficulties in introducing the Public Benefit Guidance in respect of the new legislation.
The Commission had undertaken considerable preparatory work on processes and procedures to begin registration and preliminary briefings have been given to the sector during the last year by the Commission and by the Church. The draft Public Benefit Guidance was issued for public consultation late last year and, after responses had been considered, it was referred to legal counsel for closer scrutiny earlier this year to ensure its robustness.
The Charity Commission stated: “As a result of legal advice received, the CCNI has asked the Department for Social Development to examine a technical aspect of the legislation governing the public benefit test. Until this examination is completed CCNI cannot begin opening of registration. We had originally planned this would happen at the end of June.
“The phasing in of registration will commence as soon as possible when this work is complete, and all stakeholders will be kept fully informed. Until this examination is concluded there remains no requirement, or indeed provision, for an institution to register as a charity in Northern Ireland.
“Until such time, any institution which operates for charitable purposes may continue to apply to HMRC for charitable status which, if granted, will entitle the institution to certain tax benefits.”
No new date for the commencement of registration has been set by The Charity Commission at this time. Please check the CCNI website, www.dsdni.gov.uk/ccni.htm for further updates. Information will also continue to be posted to the Church of Ireland website: www.ireland.anglican.org/charities.