Charity Commission delays charity registration for some

5 Sep 2019 Denise Copeland    Last updated: 26 Sep 2019

The Charity Commission is currently not registering all charitable organisations that have submitted an application due to a High Court ruling which was handed down on 16th May.   

The High Court ruled that Commission staff do not have the explicit delegated authority to make decisions on behalf of the Commission. The Commission will therefore not be able to register the same volume of registrations as it had been doing nor give Consents on the same scale.  The Commission has now released a statement on the situation stating that:

"The Commission’s regulatory work is continuing. While some decisions may be delayed and the volume of decisions made has been temporarily reduced, please be assured that work on applications, requests and queries is ongoing at this time....If any charity is experiencing difficulty as a result of awaiting a decision of the Commission, please contact the Commission as soon as possible, outlining the issues in detail."

It is not known when this situation will be resolved -  the Commission will contest this ruling in the court of appeal but if the decision is upheld, it may need a change in legislation and that would probably  require a functioning government at Stormont. 

The negative effect on charitable organisations

This hold up in charity registration has caused anxiety for a number of organisations waiting on charity registration, particularly those that need charity registration to be eligible to apply for charitable trust funding.  It is also hampering charities who need the Commission’s consent to make changes to their charitable purposes. 

NICVA has written to all of the funders on our GrantTracker toolkit to make them aware of the situation facing organisations in Northern Ireland and has asked them to consider funding organisations which have charitable tax recognition. 

Do you need charitable status urgently?

HMRC can grant charitable tax recognition to charitable organisations in Northern Ireland without them having to be first registered with the Charity Commission for NI.  Please see our guidance on  ‘how to register your charity for tax purposes’  

Charitable organisations can also apply for rates exemption without first having to be registered with the Charity Commission.  You can apply for rates exemption at the following link https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/charitable-exemption-rates

denise.copeland@nicva.org's picture
by Denise Copeland

Governance and Charity Advice Manager

[email protected]