Registered charities that are affiliated or closely related, and have similar charitable purposes, can apply to register as a group under the Charities Act 2005. Charities must nominate one member to be the “parent” entity that applies for group registration on behalf of all charities in the group.
If the application for group registration is successful, Charities Services works with the parent to agree on the group’s terms and conditions. These terms and conditions set out how the group will meet the ongoing requirements of the Charities Act, including annual reporting and notifying us of changes to any registered charity that is part of the group. For annual reporting, options include the parent consolidating the relevant information and reporting annually on behalf of the group. Another option is for the parent submitting to Charities Services the individual information from each member of the group.
Applications for group registration must be made online. If you would like to apply, please send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be in touch to explain the application process.
Who can register as a group?
Two or more registered charities can apply to register together as a group if they:
- agree to register together as a group
- can nominate one registered charity from the group to lead the application process and act on the group’s behalf (we call this charity the “parent”)
- are affiliated or closely related
- have similar charitable purposes
For entities that are not yet registered under the Charities Act 2005, group registration is a two-stage process. Firstly, each individual entity applies for registration under the Act. Secondly, once individual entities are registered, one entity applies on behalf of all the entities for group registration.
If the application for group registration is successful, the group will have its own unique name and registration number.
Who will lead your group and act as the “parent”?
Your group must agree which registered charity will act as the parent for the group. The parent may be, for example, the head office, national body or one of the local offices. The parent is not an entity set up especially to act as the parent.
The parent is the key contact for any interactions with Charities Services. The parent will need to work with us through the application process, including providing any additional information we request (including information about each registered charity that may form part of the group) and setting the terms and conditions for the group.
If the group is registered, the parent will have ongoing responsibilities set out in the group’s terms and conditions. These could include responsibility for submitting annual returns and financial statements on behalf of the group, and ensuring that we have up-to-date information (including contact details, and details of officers) about the group members.
Terms and conditions – filing annual returns and notifying changes
If your group application is approved, we will work with the parent to agree to terms and conditions for the group.
The terms and conditions set out how the group and group members will meet certain requirements under the Charities Act 2005.
In general, the parent will be responsible for submitting annual returns (and accompanying financial statements) on behalf of group members, and notifying us of any changes to name, address for service, balance date, rules, purposes or officers of any group members. However, the parent may be able to delegate these responsibilities to individual group members in certain circumstances.
Annual returns and financial statements
The terms and conditions can require the parent to prepare financial statements on a consolidated basis or separately in respect of each registered charity that forms part of the group. In deciding between these options, Charities Services must take into account:
- the needs of the users of the financial statements
- the purposes of the Charities Act
- what is required under the reporting standards.
1. Consolidated reporting
Under these terms and conditions, the parent is responsible for submitting one annual return and one set of consolidated financial statements that cover all the activities, balances (etc) of the group members. All the members of the group should have the same balance date (end of financial year).
We can only agree to these reporting terms and conditions where the parent controls, for financial reporting purposes, all the registered charities that form part of the group. This is because, under the reporting standards that apply to the preparation of financial statements that must accompany an annual return, consolidated financial statements are only permitted when one registered charity controls another entity.
The definition of control in the reporting standards is quite specific and differs from its ordinary meaning. Control means the power to govern the financial and operating policies of another entity so as to benefit from its activities. Further information is available on our website.
As part of the group application, you will be asked whether the parent controls, for financial reporting purposes, any proposed group member. If you indicate that there is control, we are satisfied that consolidated financial statements meet the needs of users and the purposes of the Charities Act. You can, however, request that the parent submits separate financial statements and annual returns for each group member (see Separate reporting, below).
2. Separate reporting
Under these terms and conditions, the parent is responsible for submitting separate annual returns and separate financial statements for each member of the group. The parent can, however, delegate responsibility to a member to file that member’s annual return and financial statements.
Generally, the parent will also have overall responsibility for notifying Charities Services of any changes to the following:
- the name of the group or any group member
- the contact details of the group or any group member
- the officers of any group member, whether as a result of an officer ceasing to hold office or the appointment of a new officer (or both), or because an officer becomes disqualified under section 16(2) of the Charities Act (for example, because the officer is convicted of a crime involving dishonesty or becomes bankrupt)
- the balance date of the group or any group member
- the rules of any group member
- the purposes of any group member.
Group members will need to provide the parent with information relating to these key changes to their organisation. Alternatively, group members can update their details by logging on to their account (external link) .
Removal of a group member from the group
We can remove a group member from a group if we are no longer satisfied that:
- the group member is affiliated or closely related to the parent
- the group member is qualified for registration as a charitable entity
- it is appropriate to treat the group member as forming part of the group.
We can also remove a group member from a group if the parent or the group member asks to be removed. Please contact us if you would like to do this.