The Government has approved plans by Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter, TD, to proceed with the establishment of an independent Charities Regulatory Authority under the terms of the 2009 Charities Act. The new Authority will come into operation in 2014. The outcome of a public consultation on charities regulation carried out by the Department of Justice and Equality earlier this year is being published today on the website of the Department of Justice and Equality.
The new Charities Regulatory Authority will have the following functions, as set out in the Charities Act:
· 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.
Speaking today, Minister Shatter said "Charities play a vitally important role in our economy and society. It is important that we put in place a system of regulation that supports them in playing that role as effectively as possible, and enhances the public trust and confidence on which all charities depend. The Charities Act is the basis for this and so I am pleased today to reaffirm the Government’s commitment to its implementation and give an indication of the timeframe in which we expect to achieve this. It is intended that registered charities themselves will be asked to meet some of the cost of their regulation through payment of a modest annual registration fee. It is only thanks to the introduction of this measure – which is provided for in the Charities Act – that we are now able to move ahead with putting this regulatory system in place. We have consulted with the charity sector on this and the fee structure to be put in place will take account of the views expressed by charities through the consultation process. By adopting this approach, in which the regulation of the sector will in time become largely self-financing, I hope to be able to make appointments to the new Authority later this year with a view to it coming into operation in 2014.
"Transparency, accountability and good governance are at the heart of the Charities Act. Members of the public quite rightly want to have confidence that their donations to charity are being used as they intended. There is much that charities themselves can do to instil this confidence. I encourage all charities to be proactive in this, not least because in doing so they can ensure that they are well placed to meet the requirements of the 2009 Act as they are phased in over the coming years.
"I would like to express my thanks to all those who made submissions to the consultation. Your informed and engaged participation in this process has been of great benefit. I am particularly encouraged by the enduring strength of stakeholder support for the introduction of statutory regulation for charities. We will continue to adopt a consultative approach during the introduction of the new regulatory requirements."
10 July 2013
Note for Editors:
Charities Regulatory Authority
The Government yesterday approved the establishment of a Charities Regulatory Authority under the Charities Act 2009. The Authority will be an independent body under the aegis of the Department of Justice and Equality. In addition to functions set out in the Charities Act, it will take on the functions of the Commissioners of Charitable Donations and Bequests for Ireland. The Authority will have a staff of approximately 20. It is envisaged that the Board of the new Authority will be designated later this year, so that the Authority can come into formal operation in 2014. A call for expressions of interest from suitably qualified persons who wish to be considered for appointment by the Minister for Justice and Equality to the Board of the new Authority will issue in the coming months. To ensure the smooth transfer of functions of the Commissioners of Charitable Donations and Bequests for Ireland to the new Authority, it is envisaged that a number of serving Commissioners will also be appointed to the Board of the new Authority.
To help meet the costs of regulating the charity sector, registered charities will be required to pay to the new Authority an annual registration fee as provided for by the Charities Act. These fees will be set in regulations by the Minister for Justice and Equality. The nature and level of the fees was one of the topics included in the consultation on the implementation of the Charities Act conducted by the Department of Justice and Equality earlier this year. An annual fee range of between €75 and €500, depending on the income of the charity, was proposed for consultation, with a token fee for very small charities. The fee structure to be put in place will take account of the views expressed by charities through the consultation process on the structure proposed. It is not envisaged that fees will be levied on charities before 2015.
Publication of Submissions to Consultation on Implementation of Charities Act
A summary of key issues raised during the consultation on the implementation of the Charities Act 2009 carried out by the Department of Justice and Equality between January and March 2013 is being published today on the website of the Department of Justice and Equality (under Consultations section).
Where consent has been given by the author(s), the submissions themselves have also been published.