The Minister of Justice, Equality and Law Reform has just announced the Consultation Paper on the Implementation of the Charities Act 2009. This Consultation Paper addresses the key issues that are expected to be brought forward and which will cover three main areas:-
- Charities Regulatory Authority
- Register of Charities
- Financial and Activity Reporting by Registered Charities to the Charities Regulatory Authority
The stakeholders in this sector are invited to make submissions, either on line or in writing, to the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform by 20 March 2013.
Conor Woods, Partner, Russell Brennan Keane leads Russell Brennan Keane’s Charity team said, “This is a welcome step on the way to implementation and we welcome this initiative and stepped approach to implementation. The Charity Sector has been seeking a legal framework in this area for a number of years and this is the first step towards the implementation of a structure which gives clarity, direction, and transparency to the sector.”
“Over the last year, I have met with the Charity Regulators in the UK and Scotland to understand how they have implemented legislation and governance in the Charity Sector. This work has been completed with Senator Mary Ann O’Brien, as part of a wider project to understand how other jurisdictions operate in this sector, and also to develop an approach which may work in Ireland. The embodiment of this research has already been delivered to Minister Alan Shatter and will form part of a formal response to the Consultation Paper.”
“I would urge all Charities and stakeholders to consider the implications of the proposed matters in the Consultation Paper, and to make submissions on feedback and responses to what is suggested. This is a critical part of the process will be to give feedback on the most pertinent aspects of the proposals.”
The significant talking point within the Consultation Paper is the proposed fees that charities could have to contribute to the regulator. Some charities will feel this is balanced and fair, and others will disagree, considering this to be another cost in an environment where ever cent matters. Perhaps a more balanced approach is needed in terms of looking at the level of reserves of certain Charities that are considered to be ‘cash or asset rich’.
Another item of significance will be the level of proposed reporting by Charities. This is a welcome step but again, balance is needed so that there is not an burdensome level of administration and costs borne on charities. Are the thresholds proposed too low or are they not low enough. Again, Charities need to respond on what they feel is appropriate.
“So as the debated intensifies, I think that Charities will now begin to see the dawn of a new era of more regulation, supervision and reporting. Lets hope it is measured, balanced and achieves the essence of what the Charity Act 2009 set out to achieve,” concluded Conor.
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Russell Brennan Keane is one of Irelands leading business advisory and accountancy firms. With 50 years experience providing professional advisory services to a range of clients in the mid to large corporate market in Ireland, from offices in Dublin, Athlone and Roscommon.