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New Charity Commission holds its first meeting

The newly-appointed Charity Commission for Northern Ireland held its first Board Meeting on Monday 15 June in Belfast. The Commission agreed its programme of work for the remainder of 2009 and beyond as it begins to discharge its statutory responsibilities.

Speaking at the Board meeting, the Chief Commissioner Tom McGrath outlined the Board's main priorities for 2009/10. "We will work with the Department for Social Development to bring forward the necessary provisions to enable the Commission to begin its dual role of regulating and supporting the charity sector in Northern Ireland. We will also conduct a full public consultation on public benefit guidance and this should be issued in the Autumn. There is much work to do in raising awareness of the role of the Charity Commission and in working with local charities to ensure that they are fully aware of the legislative requirements."

A Commencement Order will be introduced by September 2009 which will bring forward the following provisions:-

  • Meaning of charitable purpose and public benefit test;
  • Charities register;
  • Charity tribunal; and
  • Commission's investigatory powers.

The Commission intends to publish its public benefit guidance in August 2009 and this will be followed by a full 12-week public consultation. Local charities and members of the public will have an opportunity to shape this important work and a series of road shows will be organised across Northern Ireland to facilitate this dialogue. These will also present an opportunity to raise awareness on the impact of the new regulatory framework on the charitable sector.

Looking further ahead, the Commission has agreed a timetable for registration and monitoring of local charities. The first new registrations will take place from April 2010 and charities will be expected to make their first returns in April 2011. These returns will include information on both financial performance and charitable activities.

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland (CCNI) is a Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB), funded by grant-in-aid from the Department for Social Development (DSD). It was established under the Charities Act (NI) 2008 and became operational on 27 March 2009 through (Commencement No. 1) Order (Northern Ireland) 2009.
  2. Its mission is to introduce a regulatory framework for the charitable sector in Northern Ireland, in line with developments in the rest of the UK and Ireland. This will provide a structure and process through which charities can demonstrate their contribution to society, the public can be assured regarding how charities are spending any donations and government can assist in the better governance of the charity sector.
  3. The Charity Commission comprises of a Chief Commissioner, a Deputy Chief Commissioner and 4 Charity Commissioners. A further legally qualified Commissioner will be appointed soon.
  4. For media enquiries please contact the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland Secretariat via the DSD Press Office, tel 028 9052 9297. Outside office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.

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