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Charities Act 2006: Public benefit and the advancement of religion

This paper sets out the key principles of the Charities Act 2006, whereby it requires that all charities demonstrate on an ongoing basis that they operate for the benefit of the public. Before the Act, it was assumed that all religious charities (and those advancing religion or poverty relief) operated for public benefit. Other charities only had to demonstrate this when registering as a charity with the Charity Commission.

Charities should have every confidence that, if they are serving their community in Christian witness without trying to make a profit, then they are almost certainly providing public benefit.

This paper covers:

  • The key obligations on Trustees (section 2)
  • The Charity Commission statutory guidance (section 3)
  • What is ‘Public benefit’; the 2 principles and each of the sub-principles (section 4)
  • An explanation of the principles, with examples to show how they are worked out in the context of Christian charities (section 5)
  • What now needs to be covered in the annual Trustees report (section 6)
  • A review of some of the concerns of the Christian community (section 7)
  • What the Charity Commission is doing to assess charities’ delivery of public benefit (section 8)