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Definition of charitable for UK companies

The Charity Commission is responsible for registered charities in England and Wales but the governing law is the Charities Act 2006, which introduced a new concept in defining a charitable purpose to qualify as a registered charity. Whereas previously, there were four "heads of charity" (relief of financial hardship, advancement of education, advancement of religion, certain other purposes for the benefit of the community), there is now a list of thirteen charitable purposes:

  • Prevention or relief of poverty
  • Advancement of education
  • Advancement of health or saving of lives
  • Advancement of citizenship or community development
  • Advancement of arts, culture, heritage or science
  • Advancement of amateur sport
  • Advancement of human rights, conflict resolution or reconciliation or the promotion of religious or racial harmony or equality and diversity
  • Advancement of environmental protection or improvement
  • Relief of those in need by reason of youth, age, ill-health, disability, financial hardhip or other disadvantage
  • Advancement of animal welfare
  • Promotion of efficiency of the armed forces of the Crown or the efficiency of the police, fire and rescue or ambulance services
  • Any other purposes recognised as charitable under the Act - this last item covers a charitable purpose that is within the spirit of the above purposes and is a mechanism for future development of the list of charitable purposes

Examples of non-charitable purposes are if benefit is mainly for the benefit of specific individuals, for political ends or propaganda.

Whether you act for a charity in a professional capacity or are a trustee there is something for you in the new act. You can find out in detail by visiting www.charitycommission.gov.uk or calling us on 0161 798 9999

Where accountants buy from Freephone 0800 085 45 05
Landline 0161 798 9999
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