Urgent Action Needed to Address Duplication in Regulatory Requirements

Following the publication today of the Report into the Potential for a ‘Charity Passport’ Facility for Charity Data in Ireland prepared for the Charities Regulatory Authority by Indecon International Economic Consultants, The Wheel has called for the immediate establishment of an interdepartmental forum to co-ordinate reporting requirements by charities. The establishment of a forum must be combined with the swift implementation of a cross Government initiative to provide necessary funding to adequately cover regulatory costs in grant allocations and contracts.  

Welcoming the key findings and recommendations in the report, Ivan Cooper, Director of Public Policy said “The Indecon report starkly confirms and highlights the crisis of duplication in regulatory requirements identified by The Wheel and the charity sector for many years. This is placing immense strain on the resources and morale of people in the sector seeking to deliver essential services. In a recent survey conducted with our members, 83% of participants revealed that they are required to duplicate information to more than one statutory source. Further to this 86% of participants have no dedicated member of staff within their organisation to work on reporting and compliance requirements so front line staff are required to divert time and resources into meetings these demands.”

As identified in the report “Complying with reporting requirements of funding agencies represents a cost for many charities. This should be recognised as an integral part of the provision of services on behalf of the State, and some allowance for this cost should be considered in concluding funding agreements. There is international recognition of the necessity to ensure charities have adequate resources to meet such requirements. As a result, many funders internationally provide grants to cover non-profit such costs.”

An analysis of new empirical research by Indecon of the governance costs of a sample of Irish charities showed that these were significant and ranged from €159,000 to over €1.3 million.

As stated in the report, “Responsibility for the development of such an initiative is in Indecon’s opinion an issue for central government and is much wider than the statutory remit of the Charities Regulator which regulates a subset of the wider not-for-profit sector.” The Wheel welcomes the recommendation that the Charities Regulator is considered best placed to lead efforts in implementing the report.

The Australian “Charity Passport” system, as examined by Indecon in the report, has an electronic facility to facilitate a bulk access by government agencies to the available information on various charities collected by the Australian regulator.

While this system may not be deemed suitable for implementation in an Irish context, several of the recommendations from the report can be implemented immediately;

  • Forum of Funders/Regulators’ should be established to help coordinate reporting requirements, and identify areas where information requests could be streamlined.
  • Funding agencies should consider including an allowance for the cost of reporting by charities in making funding decisions.

Download the Report