The Wheel Welcomes Publication of General Scheme of the Charities (Amendment) Bill 2022

Posted on 29 Apr 2022

The Wheel, the national association of charities, has today (29 April 2022) welcomed the publication of the General Scheme of the Charities (Amendment) Bill 2022, which aims to address some important issues relating to current legislation. The new legislation will close off a loophole that has prevented the Charities Regulator from introducing accounting and reporting regulations for charities. It will also recognise the promotion of human rights as a charitable purpose.

Commenting on the publication of the Bill, Ivan Cooper, Director of Public Policy at The Wheel said, “We greatly appreciate the initiative by Minister Joe O’Brien and his officials to address and correct these anomalies related to charity procedures and governance. Charities are involved in supporting and serving people in every community in the country and one in three people delivering public services works for a charity – so maintaining high levels of trust and confidence in the sector is crucial.

“The establishment of the Charities Regulator in 2014 transformed the environment that charities work in. The Wheel and the charity sector very much welcomed the introduction of regulation which had been sought for decades. For the first time, there was a comprehensive legal and regulatory framework for charities. The regulator developed clear governance standards for charities and published guidance on charitable fundraising and lobbying by charities among many other things. Regulation has contributed greatly to increasing public trust and confidence in charities,” said Ivan Cooper.

“Like all legislation, however, some issues emerged as sections of the Charities Act were commenced and regulation bedded down and it is good to see that this bill will address some things that need fixing. We are very pleased to see the intention for the new legislation to close off a loophole that has prevented the regulator from introducing charity accounting and reporting regulations. Following the passage of the act all charities – including incorporated charities - will be required to comply with accounting and reporting regulations.

“We are also pleased to see that the promotion of human rights will be recognised as a charitable purpose. The Act amongst many other things, will also set thresholds for smaller organisations relating to reporting and accounting regulations, will set out the duties of trustees, and will identify important protections for trustees in certain circumstances.

“We look forward to now examining the full details of the proposed changes, including those for new financial thresholds on reporting. We will engage with our members to find out how charity regulation is working for them and to identify potential additional improvements to the legislation that would help maintain and ensure a high level of trust and confidence in charities. We look forward to positively supporting and engaging with all stakeholders in this process," said Ivan Cooper.