Regulator pledges to act amid 'institutional arrogance' claims

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland (CCNI) has pledged to publish an action plan on how it will improve the way it regulates charities.

This follows a report detailing concerns from two charities investigated by the regulator.

The report found that those directly impacted by orders and decisions made by the regulator “remained deeply aggrieved” and are continuing to pursue complaints about the way it handles cases and its treatment of those involved.

The Commission is accused of “institutional arrogance” by those involved in the cases, says the report, which has been carried out by an independent Counsel. This has been focused on the Commission’s regulation of the charities Lough Neagh Rescue and Disabled Police Officers’ Association of Northern Ireland.

The report found that: “Whilst the orders that were made in respect of the individuals may all have been found to be unlawful, the treatment of individuals by the CCNI remains an area of hurt for the individuals.”

Recommendations

Among recommendations made is for the Commission to ensure it puts in place “supportive measures” to “minimise any disruptive effects and maximise the chance of a successful outcome for the charity and its beneficiaries”.

The regulator should also consider “what more could be done” to improve its awareness of individual charity issues and to intervene earlier.

Cost to a charity of decisions made by the regulator also need to be factored in.

It is also urged to ensure that its communications with charities are “sufficiently detailed and provide adequate rationale for any requests of outcomes”.

One individual said that the regulator was motivated by “simple hatred towards the disabled”, although the report says “there is insufficient evidence to support” this.

The report recommends the regulator to do more to help charities “to improve or maintain diversity and inclusion” when investigations take place.

Chief charity commissioner's response

“It is clear from the review, and previous communications, that some individuals feel extremely hurt and aggrieved by the actions taken in these particular investigatory cases,” said Nicole Lappin, chief charity commissioner for Northern Ireland.

“I am sorry to hear of the impact the inquiries had on the individuals involved and I am grateful for the time and openness they have demonstrated in speaking to independent Counsel during the review process.”

She added: “I hope, as we look to the future, this work will support the Commission in improving it’s processes and communications, while also assuring those who participated in the review that their voices have been heard, that Commissioners and staff care greatly about their experiences and are working to set right where things may have gone wrong in the past.”

Lough Neagh Rescue was subject to a statutory inquiry by the regulator between May 2013 and January 2015. The unrelated inquiry into the Disabled Police Officers’ Association of Northern Ireland took place between February 2014 and March 2016. These were among the fist cases undertaken by the regulator.

The review, of complaints arising from the regulator’s handling of the cases, started in February 2021.

    Share Story:

Recent Stories


How to elevate your non-profit storytelling with data and performance metrics.
Sage Intacct the non-profit financial management platform, takes a look at giving trends and insights.

What has the pandemic taught us about the public’s perception of charities?
In this episode of the Charity Times Leadership podcast, we take a look at what the pandemic has taught us about the public’s perception of charities. Charity fundraising platform, Enthuse, recently released its quarterly donor research study, which highlighted significant shifts in donor behaviour throughout the duration of the pandemic. Not only does the report highlight an overarching sense of positivity towards the sector, but a propensity for younger generations to give more generously, too. Lauren Weymouth is joined by Enthuse CEO, Chester Mojay-Sinclare to discuss more.

The importance of the ‘S’ in ‘ESG’
In this episode, Lauren Weymouth is joined by Ketan Patel, equities fund manager at EdenTree, to delve into the issue of social investment and why that all-important ‘S’ in ESG is more relevant now than ever before. The social element of ESG often gets forgotten when thinking about investing in more ethical and sustainable ways. But, after a challenging year for all areas of society, social injustice has been highlighted, and there’s a much greater need for charities to put people at the heart of their investment decisions.