Bates Wells Briefing for Charities & Social Enterprises | 24 May 2017

Bates Wells Highlights


Bates Wells welcomes the appointment of Helen Stephenson as the next Chief Executive of Charity Commission.

See here for BWB’s “General Election 2017 – a legal perspective”, a detailed guide on law and regulation relevant to engagement with the election campaign.

The BWB Briefing will take a break next week and return the week beginning 5th June.

At a glance

Eleven civil society umbrella organisations have joined together to highlight to all political parties – and the next government – the importance of engaging with voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations at national and local level. 

The Local Government Association has published a paper for local authorities on how to make the best use of scarce resources in adult social care. 

The King’s Fund has published a new report “Mental health and new care models”. 

The Information Commissioner has opened a formal investigation into the use of data analytics for political purposes.

Charity Commission

New Chief Executive

Helen Stephenson CBE has been appointed as the next chief executive of the Charity Commission, taking over from Paula Sussex on 18 July, see the Commission’s press release.

New inquiry

The Commission has opened an inquiry into The Jack Raine Community Foundation (1106701). The Commission was informed by North Yorkshire Police that a financial investigation was being conducted into the charity. As a result, the Commission took the step (which we believe is unusual) of making an unannounced visit to the charity’s premises in November 2016 to inspect the charity’s books and records. The Commission found insufficient financial records and no evidence of trustee meeting minutes to reflect any decisions taken by the trustee board. The Commission has established further serious regulatory concerns. The Commission has already taken steps to freeze the charity’s bank accounts under section 76(3) (d) Charities Act 2011.

Inquiry report (“double defaulter”)

The latest “double defaulter” inquiry report has been published, into Great Yarmouth Schools and Business Partnership Limited (11122200).

Blogpost about charity registrations

The Commission’s latest blogpost reflects on the first anniversary of the new online application for registration as a charity (ARC). The blogpost notes that the Commission had a record 8368 applications in 2016/17 and that over the first 12 months of the new service, and despite registering 17% more charities than in the previous year, ARC has helped to reduce the average registration time by 3 working days. The Commission says it is continuing to try to improve the service and respond to user feedback and will be looking in particular to consider:

  • Bespoke question sets for different types of charity
  • Simplifying the tax section
  • Consideration of “electronic signatures” to replace hand-written signatures on the Trustee Eligibility Declaration.

Regulatory alert – ransomware threat

The Commission has issued a regulatory alert urging trustees to be vigilant about ransomware attacks, following the recent cyber attack on organisations including the NHS.

Governance and leadership

See here for information about a recent seminar organised by the Centre for Voluntary Sector Leadership, based at the OU Business School.  The seminar is “A relational account of third sector leadership – fields, frames and movement”.


The Lloyds Bank Foundation is funding an in-depth look at the social and economic role of small and medium sized charities operating at a local level in England and Wales.


Eleven civil society umbrella organisations have joined together to highlight to all political parties – and the next government – the importance of engaging with voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations at national and local level.  Three example policies are given:

  • Review the charity tax system
  • Invest in community ownership
  • Review the Social Value Act

The Institute of Fundraising is urging the fundraising community to contact their local candidates to support and champion charity fundraising during the General Election.  The IoF’s Chief Executive Peter Lewis, has also written an open letter to all party leaders urging them to support fundraising in the next Parliament, and the IoF has produced a new General Election briefing ‘Supporting Charity Fundraising: General Election 2017’ outlining specific ways MPs and the next government can support fundraising in the new parliament. This will form the basis of the IoF’s engagement with parliamentarians after the election.  

The King’s Fund has published this blog about social care and what the manifestos are saying.

The Sport and Recreation Alliance has published these summaries of what these parties’ manifestos mean for the sport sector:

BOND has summarised what the party manifestos say about international development.


Greenpeace has warned that the Electoral Commission has turned the controversial Lobbying Act into a ‘permanent threat’ to civil society campaigning by failing to consider the special circumstances of a snap election in its guidance.

Also see under Data protection and Scotland below.


EU negotiations

The European Court of Justice has issued a judgment which could affect how the UK and EU negotiate and shape their future trading relationship post-Brexit.

  • In response to a request from the European Commission, the Court has ruled that the bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) between the EU and Singapore in its current form cannot be concluded by the EU alone, but must be concluded by the EU and Member States acting together. This is because a number of the “new generation” provisions fall within a competence shared between the EU and Member States, namely the provisions relating to non-direct foreign investment (i.e. portfolio investments made without any intention to influence the management and control of any undertaking) and the regime for settling disputes between investors and States.
  • The consequence of the ruling is that the conclusion of this FTA—and any other FTA incorporating similar provisions—will be subject to national approval processes within each Member State. In some cases, this will mean ratification by both national and regional parliaments, which and therefore opens up opportunities for delays and blocking manoeuvres such as the obstruction last year of the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement by the regional parliament of Wallonia in Belgium.
  • It follows from the judgment that the free trade agreement can, as it stands, only be concluded by the EU and the Member States jointly.   

Sector implications

Charities are being “far too quiet” in the run-up to the general election, according to Gina Miller and Baroness Hayter. Speaking on a panel about Brexit and the charity sector at the Charity Finance Group’s annual conference last week, Miller said charities had been too cautious about involving themselves in the forthcoming election and denied that the lobbying act prevented charities from speaking out.  


See under Election above.

Compliance with General Data Protection Regulation

Civil Society Media reports the Direct Marketing Association has said that focusing purely on a fully opted-in consent model for fundraising is “not totally necessary” under GDPR, as it is only one of six legal grounds on which personal data can be processed.

Also see under Scotland below.

Social finance

Social investment tax relief

The effect of the general election means that the planned expansion of SITR within the Finance Bill 2017 has been delayed.  The Finance Bill passed, but excluded some of the changes due to be made as per the Autumn Statement 2016.  It is possible the SITR expansion will pass into law later this year, perhaps with retrospective effect.

Also see under Scotland below.

Social impact

See under Election above.

LibertyBus, the Jersey operation of social enterprise HCT Group, has launched its first social impact report.

Health and social care

See under Election above.

The Local Government Association has published a paper for local authorities on how to make the best use of scarce resources in adult social care. 

The King’s Fund has published a new report “Mental health and new care models”.

International development

See under Election above.

Data protection

The Information Commissioner has decided to open a formal investigation into the use of data analytics for political purposes. This will involve “deepening our current activity to explore practices deployed during the UK’s EU Referendum campaign but potentially also in other campaigns. Given the transnational nature of data the investigation will involve exploring how companies operating internationally deploy such practices with impact or handling of data in the UK.”   She describes the investigation as “a high priority for my office in our work to uphold the rights of individuals and ensure that political campaigners and companies providing services to political parties operate within UK law”. The ICO will provide an update later in the year.

A former NHS administrator has been fined £400 and ordered to pay £350 costs and a £40 victim surcharge for unlawfully accessing patient records.  She repeatedly and unlawfully accessed the medical records of two patients between August 2015 and July 2016 (one 51 times and the other 8 times), causing them distress.

You can now view the ICO’s annual performance statistics for 2016/17 on the ICO website.


OSCR’s latest blogpost  is the final instalment of the series of posts on Social Investment by Pauline Hinchion, Director of Scottish Community Re:Investment Trust (SCRT), on the subject of The Third Sector, Social Return and Achieving Common Good.

OSCR’s Corporate Strategy for 2017-2020 has been published and notes that uncertainties regarding the current political, economic and technological environment make planning for this period extremely challenging.

See this blog about self regulation of fundraising in Scotland.  The Independent Fundraising Standards & Adjudication Panel for Scotland, which was set up in December 2016, is looking for a catchier name! 

Northern Ireland

CCNI has launched a consultation on its draft guidance on Serious Incident Reporting which will be open until 21 July.

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This information is necessarily of a general nature and doesn’t constitute legal advice. This is not a substitute for formal legal advice, given in the context of full information under an engagement with Bates Wells.

All content on this page is correct as of May 24, 2017.