Fifty of first NI annual returns 'failed basic compliance checks'

According to the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, some of the first 324 annual returns failed to provide information on income and expenditure

Fifty of the first 324 Northern Irish charities to file their annual returns with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland failed basic compliance checks, the regulator has revealed.

Some of the returns failed to provide basic information such as the charity’s income and expenditure, the regulator said.

Submitting an annual return to the CCNI will become mandatory for Northern Irish charities under new rules that will come into force in January.

The CCNI has received 324 annual returns under interim reporting arrangements and has analysed them to produce a report aimed at helping charities when the full requirements are introduced.

The report concludes that charities need to become better acquainted with their reporting obligations and ensure they are submitting the right information.

Other reasons for 50 returns failing compliance checks included the year-end given on the financial accounts not matching the year on the annual return and the information submitted not matching that on the actual accounts.

The report advises charities to ensure they have made any necessary changes to their entry on the register of charities before filing their annual returns, to avoid problems with conflicting information.

Frances McCandless, chief executive of the CCNI, said: "This report highlights the problems charities are having when filing their returns. Annual reporting by registered charities is new, but it is now a requirement.

"A successfully filed set of accounts goes a long way towards keeping a charity fully compliant and the public confident that charities are open, transparent and fulfilling their purpose."

She said trustees of charities due to file their accounts in the next year should become acquainted with the CCNI’s annual reporting guidance at once to ensure they understood what was required.

Under the Charities (Accounts and Reports) Regulations, which was passed by the Northern Ireland Assembly last year, all registered charities in Northern Ireland will be required to submit accounts to the regulator within 10 months of the end of their first complete financial year beginning on or after 1 January 2016.

The CCNI estimates that this means about 1,000 charities will be required to submit annual returns this year, with a further 3,500 due to submit in the financial year for 2017/18.

Charity registration in Northern Ireland has been a requirement only since 2013, and there are more than 5,000 charities on the register, with more than half of them added in the past year.

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