Consultation on Northern Ireland charity accounting rules delayed until spring 2012

Postponement by the Department for Social Development pushes the establishment of an NI register back 'at least a year'

Department for Social Development
Department for Social Development

A consultation on the accounting rules that govern charities in Northern Ireland has been delayed for six months.

The Department for Social Development had planned to launch a consultation this autumn into the draft regulations, which will define the type of accounts charities must use and the level of detail included in them.

But this has been delayed until early spring next year, a spokeswoman for the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland confirmed.

The Committee for Social Development in the Northern Ireland Assembly has also delayed its discussions on the Charities (Amendment) Bill, which will decide the wording for rules that will define charities’ public benefit.

This includes a proposal put forward earlier this year that would reintroduce a presumption of public benefit for charities that aim to advance religion, advance education or relieve poverty.

"These delays will obviously hold back the establishment of a register," said Denise McCann, governance and charity advice manager at Nicva, the umbrella body for charities in the province. "We don’t believe a register could be established until this time next year at the earliest."

She said that Nicva was "strongly opposed" to any rule that allowed presumption of public benefit.

"No one in the charitable sector really seems to be in favour of it," she said.

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