Royal Assent puts charity registration on track for late 2013

Eagerly awaited Royal Assent was today granted on the Bill to amend the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008. This development will allow for the consultation on the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland’s public benefit and registration guidance to start on 4 February 2013. It also means registration of charities in Northern Ireland can begin in the autumn of this year.

The Bill, which was introduced into the Northern Ireland Assembly in July 2012, clarifies the public benefit requirement for local charities.

Chief Charity Commissioner, Tom McGrath, has welcomed today’s developments:

"The Commission is delighted today to welcome the news that Royal Assent has been received and we now have a robust Charities Act. The legislative problem that has held up registration to date has come as a great source frustration for the Commission and we appreciate the patience of all working in the charity sector. We are now keen to get on with the important task of registering charities in Northern Ireland."

The Commission’s guidance on the public benefit requirements and the registration process will be published for consultation on this site on 4 February.

Twelve consultation events will be held throughout Northern Ireland. Charities, stakeholders and any member of the public interested in charity registration can now get involved in the consultative process which runs for 13 weeks closing on May 6 2013. You should also refer to the Commission’s website or twitter feeds to keep up to date with the latest developments on the overall consultative process.

A pilot registration phase, involving 20 organisations, will precede full charity registration. Charities need not do anything at the moment in terms of registration. The Commission will make further information available throughout the year.

It is important to note that registration will not happen overnight. It is estimated that there are between 7,000 – 12,000 charities in Northern Ireland, so this will be a managed process. This will provide Northern Ireland with a list of registered charities for the first time.

You can access all the relevant information on the Charity Commissions website http://www.charitycommissionni.org.uk or alternatively join in the conversation by following us @CharityCommNI.

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