Charity Commission for Northern Ireland facing independent review

The communities minister says public confidence in charity regulation has 'undoubtedly been damaged' by events including the CCNI's handling of a series of complaints

The Northern Ireland charity regulator is facing an independent review of its performance after a report found concerns with how it had handled complaints from a member of the public.

In a written question in the Northern Ireland Assembly, Traditional Unionist Voice party leader Jim Allister asked the communities minister, Carál Ní Chuilín, what action had been taken in respect of the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland in the wake of the Baume report, which examined how the regulator handled a number of complaints from a member of the public. 

It was commissioned by David Sterling, then head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, and completed in August.

Ní Chuilín said in her answer to the assembly question that Sterling had asked her department to respond to the suggestions set out in the review. 

“These are currently being progressed, including consideration of the department’s role as the custodian of charity regulation law and policy and sponsor for the commission. 

“The department’s head of governance has also written to the chief commissioner to seek assurances in relation to matters highlighted in the review.

“In order to restore public confidence in a system that has undoubtedly been damaged, I have also decided to commission an independent review of charity regulation including a review of the performance of the Charity Commission in its role as statutory regulator.”

A Department for Communities spokesperson said: “Recent events including the Court of Appeal judgment into the delegation of functions to Charity Commission staff have damaged public confidence in the regulator and charity regulation generally.

"In this context, the minister has decided to commission an independent review of charity regulation, to include the performance of the commission as the current regulator.

"The minister will appoint the panel and the format of the review is currently being determined.”

A spokesperson for the CCNI said: “The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland welcomes the review announced this week into charity regulation.”

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