SOCIAL Development Minister, Nelson McCausland MLA, has welcomed approval for the Charities Bill, which today completed its Final Stage in the NI Assembly.
The Bill was introduced into the Assembly in July 2012 and is intended to clarify the ‘public benefit’ requirement for local charities. This was initially set out in the Charities Act (NI) 2008, however further primary legislation has been brought forward to rectify a legal issue around the definition of charity within the Act.
Following completion of the Final Stage of the Bill, Minister McCausland said: “This is a significant piece of legislation which will clarify how local charities can demonstrate their public benefit. It will enable the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland to consult on its draft public benefit guidance and to begin the process of setting up a register of charities in Northern Ireland.
“I am pleased that the Bill has received support from Members across all parties and that the work of the Commission to date has been widely and favourable recognised. Today is undoubtedly an important step forward in meeting our objective to have a well regulated and vibrant charity sector in Northern Ireland.”
Tom McGrath, Chief Commissioner of the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland commented: “We similarly welcome the completion of the Bill’s legislative process in the Assembly. The delay in beginning charity registration has come as a great source of frustration for the Commission and for Northern Ireland charities.
“Therefore, we look forward to getting on with the public benefit and registration consultation early next year, and beginning to register charities as soon as we can.”