The Charities Bill, introduced to the Assembly by Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey, passed its final stage on Tuesday 8 February 2022.
The Minister introduced this Bill in direct response to concerns raised by the charity sector.
Minister Hargey said:
“I am delighted that this important piece of legislation has passed Final Stage. The Bill will bring real benefits to over 6,500 charities and those that rely on them.
“I believe that the provisions in this Bill, together with the Review of Charity Regulation which has just been published, position us well to reclaim public and stakeholder confidence in charity regulation here.”
In summary the Bill will:
- Make previous decisions taken by staff of the Charity Commission (the Commission) lawful except where to do so could impinge on the rights of individuals under the European Convention on Human Rights;
- Provide refreshed appeal rights for decisions made lawful by the Bill, extending the timeframe for those appeals from 42 days to 91 days from the date of Royal Assent;
- Ensure that charities do not have to account for past periods where they have not continued to do so voluntarily, but will instead be required to report on their first full financial year from 1 April 2022;
- Provide that some decisions required of the Commission may be delegated to Commission staff provided they are set out in a Scheme of Delegation which will be subject to public consultation, whilst stipulating that certain decisions will never be taken by staff; and
- Provide a power for the introduction of a registration threshold below which charities would not be required to register with the Commission or be subject to annual reporting requirements, via subordinate legislation at some future point if deemed appropriate.
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