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Charities: snowball's chance of meeting deadline

Sandra Goudie MP
National Party Internal Affairs Spokeswoman

20 March 2008

Charities Commission choked - snowball's chance of meeting deadline

The Charities Commission is choked with applications from not-for-profit organisations to register as charities and is processing them so slowly that the June 30 deadline is an impossible dream, says National’s Internal Affairs spokeswoman, Sandra Goudie.

“One accountant has calculated that at the current rate of processing registrations – 41.2 a week – it will take about four decades to process applications from all 90,000 not-for-profit organisations.

“The rate of registration is appallingly slow, but compounding the problem is news that the commissioner is attempting to ‘weed out’ organisations that may do political lobbying, without any policy or guidelines to help him do the job.

“If that’s the case, how is the Charities Commissioner determining the thresholds that have to be met by not-for-profits in terms of advocacy? By guessing?

“This situation is just getting worse. The commission started out saying applications would be processed within 30 days – they now admit it will be at least three times longer than that.

“It certainly didn’t help that the $1.8 million-plus computer system they got to carry out the registrations had to be ditched because it couldn’t do the job.

“Since July 2005, $10.9 million has been spent on setting up the Charities Commission. Their attempt to register organisations has become farcical.

“Taxpayers’ money has been thrown away, non-profits have been put through needless stress as they fear losing their tax advantages, and the commission is buried under a mountain of registrations that it has no chance of processing.

“These organisations are owed an explanation from Labour about why there was no planning, no policies, and no forethought before the commission was established.”

Attached: Written questions 19086, 18512, 18514 (2007) 1173 (2008)

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Answers to parliamentary questions

9086 (2007). Sandra Goudie to the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector (19 Nov 2007): What has been the total cost to date for the Charities Commission, and what portion of that cost is for the information technology (IT) computer system?
Ruth Dyson (Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector) replied: I have been advised that the total expenditure for the Charities Commission, from the Commission’s commencement on 1 July 2005 to 31 October 2007, has been $10.914m and the portion spent on information technology has been 21 percent.

18512 (2007). Sandra Goudie to the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector (08 Nov 2007): How much has the Charities Commission spent establishing their computer system in 2006 and 2007 financial year?
Ruth Dyson (Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector) replied: I am advised that in 2006/07 the Charities Commission spent $1.854 million to establish the registration computer system and spent a further $0.203 million to establish other supporting information technology systems.

18514 (2007). Sandra Goudie to the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector (08 Nov 2007): Has the Charities Commission replaced any part of the computer system it has purchased; if so, what is the value of the part of the computer system that has been replaced?
Ruth Dyson (Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector) replied: I am advised that the Charities Commission has replaced the initial registration software that had an original cost of $1.854 million.

1173 (2008). Sandra Goudie to the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector (22 Feb 2008): Will the Charities Commission monitor not-for-profit entities registered with the commission in regard to their advocacy role, and if so, how?
Ruth Dyson (Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector) replied: I am advised the Charities Commission, under the Charities Act 2005, has these statutory monitoring functions: "to monitor charitable entities and their activities to ensure that entities that are registered as charitable entities continue to be qualified for registration as charitable entities"; and "to monitor and promote compliance with this Act, including by taking prosecutions for offences against this Act in appropriate circumstances". The Charities Commission is currently developing detailed operational policy as to how it will fulfil its monitoring functions under the Charities Act (2005).


ENDS

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