Minister Alan Shatter has announced emergency plans to establish the Charities Regulatory Authority. The decision was made in the wake of the recent controversies and mounting public criticism surrounding the Central Remedial Clinic.
The Minister confirmed that funding for the new regulator has been approved with the Board recruitment process set to begin next week. It is envisaged that the regulator will be up and running by Easter.
In a statement, the Justice Minister said: “The recent revelations about certain organisations in the charitable sector have understandably damaged public trust and confidence. The commencement of the key measures in the Charities Act will provide the increased transparency and accountability that will allow this trust to be rebuilt.”
The Department has issued a call for expressions of interest from suitably qualified people to join the new Board. Arrangements are also being made for the appointment of an interim CEO by the end of February.
Click here for a full transcript of the speech delivered by Minister Shatter on the 21st of January 2014.
KEY ASPECTS OF THE CHARITIES REGULATORY AUTHORITY
Register of Charities
The Regulator will be responsible for maintaining a register of all charitable organisations operating in Ireland. The information maintained on this register will be publicly available as a means of boosting transparency and by extension, public trust of the sector.
- Charities in receipt of charitable tax exemption from the Revenue Commissioners will be automatically registered with the Regulator once it is established.
- All other charitable organisations must register within six months of the establishment of the Regulator.
- Under the new legislation, all charities will be required to state that they are registered with the Regulator on their public literature. This would include letters, reports, publications etc.
Annual Activity Report
In line with the new reporting standards outlined in the Charities Act, all charities will be required to submit an Annual Activity Report to the Regulator. The format of the document was discussed during the public consultation period earlier this year but is yet to be finalised. For a synopsis of responses from the organisations and individuals that took part in the consultation click here. It is envisaged that the Annual Activity Report will be akin to the document required by either the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland or the Charity Commission for England and Wales.
Company Law states that charities that are registered as companies are required to submit annual accounts to the Companies Registration Office (CRO). Under the regulatory framework, the CRO will submit these annual accounts to the Regulator.
A different set of requirements will apply to charities that are not registered as companies.
- Unincorporated charities will be required to submit an Annual Statement of Accounts to the Regulator.
- Where the gross income or expenditure of a charitable organisation in a financial year does not exceed €100,000, the charity may prepare an income and expenditure account and a statement of the assets and liabilities of the charitable organisation.
- Charities that are not companies which receive less than €10,000 in a financial year will be exempt from filing annual accounts. These bodies are still required to submit their Annual Activity Report.
The Charities Act defines ‘Charity Trustees’ as those persons having day-to-day control of a charitable organisation.
- Under the new legislation, all charities will be obliged to inform the Regulator of the identities of all its trustees. For companies limited by guarantee this refers to its Directors, but there are also different types of trustee which are included under this provision.
- For example, members of ‘management committees’ or core groups’ will be deemed trustees under the new legislation.
The Charities Act 2009 outlines the following functions for the Charities Regulatory Authority:
- increase public trust and confidence in the management and administration of charitable trusts and charitable organisations;
- promote compliance by charity trustees with their duties in the control and management of charitable trusts and charitable organisations;
- promote the effective use of the property of charitable trusts or charitable organisations;
- ensure the accountability of charitable organisations to donors and beneficiaries of charitable gifts, and the public;
- promote understanding of the requirement that charitable purposes confer a public benefit;
- establish and maintain a register of charitable organisations;
- ensure and monitor compliance by charitable organisations with this Act;
- carry out investigations in accordance with this Act;
- encourage and facilitate the better administration and management of charitable organisations by the provision of information or advice, including in particular by way of issuing (or, as it considers appropriate, approving) guidelines, codes of conduct, and model constitutional documents;
- carry on such activities or publish such information (including statistical information) concerning charitable organisations and trusts as it considers appropriate;
- provide information (including statistical information) or advice, or make proposals, to the Minister on matters relating to the functions of the Authority.
Department of Justice and Equality
To view the entire Charities Act 2009 which details the full remit of the new Charities Regulatory Authority, click here.