Our Board of Trustees has decided that our Diocese of Portsmouth charity is to be ‘incorporated’, that is, to become a Charitable Incorporated Organisation or CIO. A number of other Dioceses in England and Wales have also become CIOs. Many will notice no change in regard of most day-to-day matters, but here, I am grateful to Heather Hauschild, our Chief Operating Officer, for explaining the benefits.
The Diocese of Portsmouth was set up as an unincorporated charitable trust in 1934. Portsmouth Roman Catholic Diocese Trust is the familiar name of the Charity, which is the legal entity responsible for the Diocese. Over the years since 1934, there have been many changes in law and increased regulations, which mean that the charity model we have been working with has become very complex to operate and administer. We have several linked charities and companies to work with under this umbrella. The Diocese of Portsmouth also includes the Channel Islands. We must comply not only with UK charity law, but also with the regulations of Jersey and the Bailiwick of Guernsey, which are becoming more prescriptive as time goes by. Guernsey has introduced new laws this year, which will involve changes for the whole Diocese, with particular emphasis on Anti-Crime and money laundering. This is why the Diocesan Trustees have taken legal advice and have decided that the Diocese should become a Charitable Incorporated Organisation or CIO. This new form of charity reflects the fact that we are responsible for substantial property assets, and we employ a number of people across our parishes and our central team. We have been doing all the preliminary work over the last year, and we hope that when the Charity Commission gives the final approvals needed, we will be able to operate under the new name of the Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth with a new charitable number. We expect this will happen by January 2023 if all goes to plan. At the moment, we are still waiting for the final approval from the Charity Commission. This process is a bit like moving house, making sure all the goods and assets are correctly labelled and ready to be moved into the new organisation, and that our donors, employees, tenants and people who have contracts with us are told about the changes.