The Government has announced the establishment of an independent Charities Regulatory Authority (the Authority) which will operate under the Charities Act 2009. It is planned that the Authority will come into operation in 2014.
The 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 activities or publish information (including statistical information) concerning charitable organisations and trusts as it considers appropriate; and
- provide information (including statistical information) or advice, or make proposals, to the Minister for Justice and Equality (the Minister) on matters relating to the functions of the Authority.
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.
According to the Department of Justice and Equality (the Department), registered charities will be required to pay an annual registration fee to the Authority which will be set out in regulations by the Minister. The nature and level of the fees was one of the topics included in a consultation on the implementation of the Charities Act conducted by the Department earlier this year. An annual fee range of between €75 and €500, depending on the income of the charity, has been proposed, with a token fee for very small charities. It is not expected that fees will be levied on charities before 2015.