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New regulator for charities to be appointed in 2014

By Ann Marie Foley - 04 December, 2013

St-Vincent-de-PaulThe first phase in the setting up a new charities regulator will get underway in the first half of next year and will see the creation of a new Charities Regulatory Authority.

This regulatory authority will ensure charities comply with their legal obligations and encourage better administration.

It is one aspect of the 2009 Charities Act which has been in the spotlight in the wake of the revelations over top up payments at the CRC.

According to an Irish Times report, the regulator will be set up in shadow format in the first six months of next year before it is established permanently by the Department of Justice.

The enactment of the 2009 law will give a definition of charitable purposes for the first time in primary legislation.

A register of charities will also be set up requiring all charities operating in Ireland to sign up while the regulator will have powers to investigate and ensure charities comply with their own rules.

Many charities in recent days have expressed concern that they might lose public support and donations at this important time of year following the CRC revelations.

“It is a little early to know if the controversy will effect donations,” a spokesperson for SVP told CatholicIreland.net. “There certainly has been a number of enquiries to national and regional offices.”

The SVP has been reassuring people, through its members and by responding to direct enquiries, that it does not pay any ‘top-ups’ to staff, and believes that all charities should be open and transparent about their work. Audited detailed annual accounts for the SVP can be viewed on the charity’s website.

The SVP aims to keep administration costs at 10% of expenditure and has had a pay freeze on staff salaries since 2009.

Only one person, the National Director, has a salary of over €100,000 (Scale €115k-€125k). Other than salaries and normal pension entitlements, no additional benefits are paid to staff.  The SVP has 11,000 volunteers supported by around 600 full-time, part-time and seasonal staff.

The WheelThe Wheel, a national network representing over 930 charities, has called on the public to continue supporting charities.

“It would be a terrible consequence for the thousands of people and communities served by the vast majority of well-run charities, if the justifiable shock and anger caused by these recent revelations were to affect the fundraising, or the reputation of charities in general,” Deirdre Garvey, Chief Executive of The Wheel, said. 

She continued, “These organisations are reliant on public generosity and support, and the issue currently in the spotlight has no bearing on the overwhelming majority of charities.”

She added that the revelations about top-up payments for senior executives and high salaries relate to a very small number of voluntary healthcare-providers that are in effect supplying outsourced public services.

A salary *survey of the charity sector in Ireland shows that the average pay for CEOs and managers in charities is €59,000 a year (with no bonuses or ‘top ups’) and that most charity CEOs earn less than €72,000 a year.

Deirdre Garvey highlighted that fact that Ireland’s 8,400 charities help plug the gaps in Ireland’s welfare system and provide essential services like housing, support and care for people with s and those who are vulnerable and socially excluded. Vulnerable people will suffer if donations decline, she warned.

The Wheel highlights that:
– Charities employ over 100,000 people in Ireland (Irish nonprofits: What Do We Know?, INKEx, 2013).
– A recent survey of over 500 Irish charities revealed that two-thirds have taken steps to reduce spending on staff: 67.5% have introduced pay-freezes or planned do so, while 45.1% have either introduced or planned to introduce pay-cuts (A Portrait of the Nonprofit Sector, The Wheel, 2012).
*National Survey on Pay and Benefits in Charities (2008) see: http://goo.gl/7LAlFy

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