The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has moved to correct a rumour that charities will have to pay to register under the commission’s new compulsory registration regime.
A letter from Frances McCandless, the chief executive of the commission, appeared in the Belfast Telegraph, the North West Telegraph and other Northern Irish media yesterday.
She said in the letter that the CCNI had become aware that "some charities are concerned about a fee associated with the charity registration process. I would like to reassure your readers that, while registration is compulsory for all charities, the commission does not charge a registration fee for any organisation applying to register."
Compulsory registration for all charities in Northern Ireland began in December. There are 308 registered charities and a further 674 whose applications are being considered. It is hoped that all charities will be registered within three to five years.
McCandless told Third Sector that the CCNI was unclear where this misconception originated.
"We don’t know whether that was someone telling a number of charities that they had to pay for advice to help them with registration, but we were approached with a misapprehension that people were going to have to pay to be registered," she said.
"The message we want to get out is that this system is designed to help charities to do this simply and for themselves, and our guidance should enable them to do it for nothing. We’re not here to encourage charities to spend charitable resources trying to comply with our requirements."
McCandless said that the CCNI could in theory charge fees for its services, as has been mooted by its England and Wales equivalent. "The potential for it is certainly there," she said. However, there were no such plans, she added, and such a change would have to be the decision of government.