Charity Commission Takes First Step to Regulate Local Charities

Date: 7 March 2011

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland (CCNI) has today announced the introduction of charity regulation to Northern Ireland.

The move allows CCNI to begin its investigatory, compliance, enforcement and regulatory scrutiny of all charities currently registered with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) for tax purposes, and will begin the regulators efforts to increase public trust and confidence in charities. Details, including the names of more than 6000 organisations to which these powers apply, will be published on a new list via the CCNI website.

Tom McGrath, Chief Commissioner said

"This is a huge step closer to giving the public of Northern Ireland the same level of protection that is offered by independent regulators in other regions of the UK and Ireland.

"The new powers do not apply to all organisations, and will only affect those already registered with HMRC. However, this is a welcome move towards full registration and the independent regulation that CCNI will bring.

"CCNI was established to ensure Northern Ireland has a dynamic and well governed charities sector, in which the public can have confidence, and these powers allow us to take the first public steps in that process."

Alex Attwood, Minister for Social Development said,

"The legislation my Department has made will mean CCNI can begin scrutiny and regulation of a large part of Northern Ireland's charitable sector. It is a transitional measure to allow the Commission to begin regulation and investigations of charities registered with HMRC. This is a welcome step whilst I take the necessary steps to remedy a legal issue arising from the Charities Act (NI) 2008 that will lead to the introduction of a full register."

Up until now, the governance and practices of charities have been overseen by central government. As a result there has been no formal registration and only limited provision for investigation and enforcement of the law through the PSNI.

Guidance on how to approach the Commission with a concern can be found on its website. Any organisation registered with HMRC which has yet to be contacted by CCNI can also find further information on how to submit updated details to the Commission. Both available online at

The step brings into effect some of the key provisions of the Charities Act (NI) 2008; however the introduction of a full register of all charities in Northern Ireland has been delayed by a technical problem with the wording of the original legislation. Plans to amend the Charities Act (NI) 2008 are currently being considered by the Minister for Social Development.


For further comment please contact:

John Davison,, 02890438677, 07795360154

Notes to editor:

  1. The 'Organisational Names' of over 6000 organisation to which these powers apply can be found under the heading of 'Organisations that have previously been known as charities' available on the CCNI website
  2. Details will be updated over time, and CCNI has already begun contacting organisations in order to update their details.
  3. Organisations on this list will be subject to those legal provisions of the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008 brought into force by two new pieces of legislation.

    a. The Commencement Order brings into operation sections of the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008 involving the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland's regulatory, investigatory and enforcement powers.

    b. The Transitional Provision Order deems those organisations who have been given a charitable tax status by relevant Income and Corporation Tax legislation to be treated as if they were a charity within the meaning of Section 1 of the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008.

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