The Department for Social Development launch consultation to seek views on the preparation of charities accounts

September 24, 2015

On 1 September 2015, the Social Development Minister, Mervyn Storey MLA, launched a consultation to seek views on how the accounts of charities in Northern Ireland are prepared and scrutinised. The consultation document can be viewed here.

Under Part 8 of the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008, all charities will have to prepare annual accounts (accruals accounts if the gross annual income is over £100,000 in any year) and an annual report. Charities must have their accounts externally examined (if the gross income is more than £100,000 this must be by a qualified person) or audited (if the gross income is more than £500,000). Charities will also be required to publicly report on their activities which have promoted public benefit, financial activities, financial position and performance.

While the framework for accounting and reporting is provided under Part 8 of the 2008 Act, supporting Regulations will provide detail such as:

  • provisions for determining the financial years of a charity;
  • the form and contents of statements of account (including notes, and the methods and principles for their preparation);
  • the form and contents of group accounts;
  • the duties of an auditor or independent examiner and the content of their reports;
  • auditors’ and examiners’ rights of access to records, information and explanations;
  • dispensation from audit requirements; and
  • the content of the trustees’ annual report.

The proposed regulations can be viewed here.

The consultation seeks views on the proposed Regulations and on the thresholds which determine the level of scrutiny of charities’ accounts to ensure these are set at the right amounts.

The consultation will run for a period of 8 weeks from 1 September 2015 and all responses should be submitted before the deadline of 30 October 2015. The Department would prefer that responses are submitted using the online questionnaire although a paper form is available upon request.

It is hoped that the new regulations, which will apply to all registered charities, will come into operation from 1 January 2016, taking effect for the financial years of registered charities beginning on or after that date.

Please note; the content of this article is for information purposes only and further advice should be sought from a professional legal advisor before any action is taken.

For more information please contact Sarah Burrows or Peter Moorhead at Cleaver Fulton Rankin telephone number 028 9024 3141 or email s.burrows@cfrlaw.co.uk or p.moorhead@cfrlaw.co.uk.