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The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland
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Annual reporting

Once your charity is registered, you are required to report annually to the Commission on your charity’s finances, resources and activities. This is known as “annual reporting” and is a legal requirement. If your charity is on the combined list and has not yet been registered, you do not have to send information to the Commission at this point.

Annual reporting by registered charities is a key element of the Commission's ongoing regulatory and monitoring work and is essential to keeping the register of charities up to date.

Through the annual reporting programme registered charities will be required to complete and submit an online annual monitoring return form, attaching the charity’s:

  • accounts
  • trustees’ annual report
  • report from independent examiner / auditor, as applicable.

The Commission makes copies of accounts and reports submitted by registered charities publicly available on each charity’s register entry.

Accounting and reporting guidance

New law, The Charities (Accounts and Reports) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2015, relating to charity accounting and reporting commenced on 1 January 2016. This legislation applies to all registered charities and sets out:

  • the form and content of charity accounts (receipts and payments or accruals accounts)
  • the form and content of the trustees’ annual report
  • the level of external scrutiny required, ie independent examination or audit.

All registered charities are required to comply with these regulations for each financial period beginning 1 January 2016 or their date of registration with the Commission, if later. 

The Commission has produced a suite of guidance, available below, providing an introduction to, and overview of, these requirements for charities. 

ARR01 Charity reporting and accounting overall summary

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ARR02 Charity reporting and accounting the essentials guidance

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ARR03 Receipts and payments accounts guidance

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ARR04 Accruals accounts guidance

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ARR05 Practical guidance on how to complete the annual monitoring return online

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ARR07 Guidance for independent examiners

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Template examiners reports - supporting document for independent examiners

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ARR08 The trustees annual report and public benefit reporting

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Example of an annual report and accounts

Please find below an example of a full annual report and accounts as submitted by Mexborough & Swinton Astronomical society. Smaller charities may benefit from looking at the Trustee Annual Reports submitted by similar charities. Go to the register of charities and search by 'What the charity does.'

Mexborough & Swinton trustees annual report 2015

Download PDF (567.9 KB)

Matters of Material Significance 

Matters of Material Significance are those items which independent examiners and auditors must report to the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland should they encounter them while handling the accounts of a charity.

The below guidance has been published in conjunction with the UK’s other charity regulators – the Charity Commission for England and Wales (CCEW) and the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) – following a period of consultation.

The matters have been agreed by the three Charity Regulators and are effective for all audits or independent examinations which are conducted and/or reported after 1 May 2017 (regardless of the accounting period being examined).

The guidance provides a detailed explanation of what matters of material significance are and provides some further explanation of each of the matters. 

Future updates to the guidance, or items for information, will be added to this page.

CCNI EG058 Matters of material significance: a guide for auditors and independent examiners

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Reporting of relevant matters of interest to UK charity regulators: a guide for auditors and independent examiners

Any person appointed as an independent examiner or auditor for a charity has additional reporting responsibilities to the charity regulator in certain situations.

1. Matters that must be reported. These are classed as matters of material significance to the charity regulator and more information on these matters is available here.

2. Matters that may be reported. These are classed as matters that are relevant to the charity regulators and more information on these matters is available in the guidance below.

The guidance below is a joint publication from the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, the Charity Commission of England and Wales (CCEW) and the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR).

CCNI EG062 Reporting of relevant matters of interest to UK charity regulators - a guide for auditors and independent examiners

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This is the first time the regulators have provided examples on where reporting would be helpful by auditors and independent examiners when reporting matters that are relevant but not a legal requirement to report.

Where an examiner or auditor is in doubt about whether they should report a matter, the preference of the UK charity regulators is that it should be reported and the regulators can then determine what action, if any, is required.

Interim reporting guidance

Prior to the commencement of the full regulations, an interim annual reporting programme was in place, covering the transitional period between the commencement of registration and the full annual reporting regulations.

This means that, while the full regulations did not commence until January 2016, the Commission had already started to receive – and publish – accounts and reports of registered charities.

If your charity was registered before 1 January 2016, and you are reporting on a financial period that began before that date, you can follow the interim requirements.  Please note these are temporary arrangements that will apply to a limited number of charities for a short time only. Accounts prepared for all subsequent financial years beginning on or after 1 January must be in accordance with the full regulations.

The Commission has produced guidance, available below, providing an overview of the interim reporting requirements for charities.

ARR06 Charity reporting: Interim annual reporting arrangements

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