Bates Wells Briefing for Charities and Social Enterprises | 18 July 2017

Bates Wells Highlights

Charities, Social Enterprise

It was announced last week that the Charity Commission would be introducing a requirement to disclose overseas funding sources. See today’s Briefing for details and sector comment.

The Bates Wells Briefing is taking a break and will return the week beginning 7th August.

At a glance

The Charity Commission has published a case report containing an analysis of some of the key issues that it dealt with relating to campaigning and political activity by charities in the run-up to the General Election.

The Charity Commission has also published its Annual Report and Accounts for the period 1 April to 31 March 2016-17.

The Charity Governance Code (an updated version of the previous Good Governance Code) has been launched.

The sector inquiry, Civil Society Futures, has issued a call for evidence.

The Law Commission has begun a consultation on overhauling the law relating to wills.

Charity Commission

New requirements to disclose sources of overseas funding

Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s announcement last week, about the Home Office’s internal review into the nature, scale and origin of the funding of Islamist extremist activity in the UK, included that the Charity Commission would be introducing a requirement to disclose overseas funding sources.  The announcement says the Commission has been “discussing this issue with charities over recent months”.  

Civil Society Media reports Charity Finance Group has challenged the Commission’s plans to introduce this via the next Annual Return.

Campaigning and political activity cases

The Commission has published a case report containing an analysis of some of the key issues that it dealt with relating to campaigning and political activity by charities in the run-up to the General Election. The Commission dealt with 41 cases, of which 13 resulted from charities contacting the Commission to seek advice and 28 resulted from either the Commission proactively identifying concerns about apparent non-compliance by charities through external sources such as mainstream media and social media, or responding to complaints. The issues examined were:

  • Visits to charities by prospective parliamentary candidates
  • Publishing educational material with political commentary or analysis
  • Providing explicit support for candidates and political parties
  • Use of charity material by candidates and political parties
  • Political activity by charity employees and trustees
  • Links with non-charitable organisations

Annual report 2016-17

The Commission has published its Annual Report and Accounts for the period 1 April to 31 March 2016-17.

The Legal Annex (chapter 6) provides an overview of the legal challenges against Commission decisions during the year, current trends in the Tribunal and reports of significant legal decisions taken by the Commission, the Tribunals or the Courts about charity law and regulation.

Research into trust and confidence in the Charity Commission

report has been published presenting the findings of independent research conducted by Populus into trust and confidence in the Charity Commission, following on from previous research conducted in 2015. The research was conducted among the general public, charities, and key stakeholders. The research objectives were to:

  • establish current attitudes towards the Commission and charity regulation
  • explore the effectiveness of the Commission’s relationship with charities and other key stakeholders
  • explore the impact of charity regulation

The Commission has published a blogpost by Sarah Atkinson discussing the findings of the research from the Commission’s perspective. In it she says that public trust in the Commission has held steady since 2015 and that the survey shows that charities are well trusted compared to other sectors. However, perceptions of charity regulation by the public as effective slipped (although remain positive overall). Whilst charities’ high level of trust in the Commission dipped slightly, 77% of charities now say that regulation is effective.

Charity Governance Code – Blogpost

The Commission has posted a blog from Sarah Atkinson commenting on the new Charity Governance Code. For more, see Governance below.

Inquiry report – double defaulter

The latest double defaulter inquiry report has been published, into Bunyan Playgroup (1038843). As a result of the inquiry, the charity submitted its missing accounting documents.


The Charity Governance Code (an updated version of the previous Good Governance Code) has been launched. BWB’s Stephanie Biden and Rachael Chapman summarise the key changes here.  Also see above for comment from the Charity Commission.


The sector inquiry, Civil Society Futures, has issued a call for evidence asking what the future holds for civil society. For example:

  • How will the different forms of civic network respond to social, political, environmental and technological change?
  • What types of civil society organisation will be important over the next decade?
  • What purpose will civil society need to fulfil in the future? What do you think they should be doing? What do you think they will find themselves doing but should steer well clear of?

The call for evidence asks for any relevant data, research reports, interviews, opinion pieces, examples of best practice, and other evidence for issues affecting the future of civil society. There is a lot to learn from other countries, so relevant international contributions are also encouraged. Responses should be no longer than 1,000 words and multimedia contributions are encouraged. Contributions may be shared publicly on the online hub.  Deadline for initial submissions is Monday 5th September 2017 and there may be an additional call for evidence in Jan 2018 depending on initial submissions.

There is also a call to organise a Civil Society Futures conversation in your community.  

Third Sector shares details about the People’s Postcode Lottery’s Dream Fund which will make three grants of up to £1m each for new projects in England, Scotland or Wales that charities might always have wanted to run but have never had the opportunity to do so. The themes for this year’s funding are supporting families, improving people’s lives through animals, green communities and increasing life chances for young people.

New Transparency requirements for trusts

HMRC has launched its online trusts register providing a single point of access for trustees and personal representatives (PRs) of complex estates to comply with their registration and reporting obligations.  All trusts and estates with a tax liability must be registered with the HMRC trusts and estates online services. This includes any trusts and estates reported on form 41G, which was withdrawn in May 2017 and which the online register replaces.


EU Withdrawal Bill & the Constitution

The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill has been published. The bill, plus relevant reports and Parliamentary debates, can be found here.

BWB’s Public and Regulatory Team have written an article discussing the main effects the Bill will have.

Professor Mark Elliot, a professor in public law at Cambridge University, has written an article about how the EU (Withdrawal) Bill works and commenting on the key constitutional issues it raises.

Dr Katy Hayward writing for the LSE Brexit Blog, has argued that Michel Barnier’s dismissal of the notion of ‘frictionless’ trade between the UK and EU after Brexit has direct ramifications for one of the most complex problems faced by the Brexit negotiators: how to manage the Irish border.

UK’s post-Brexit Deal with EU

The European Commission has published a factsheet detailing the state of play of Article 50 negotiations with the UK.

The House of Lords EU Select Committee is visiting Brussels to continue its work on Brexit.  

The UK Government has published three position papers for the negotiations – on ongoing EU judicial proceedings, nuclear materials, and privileges. These papers arguably underline the risks that the EU will face if there is no transition period after Brexit.


Fundraising Regulator (FR)

The FR has now uploaded the Public Register of charities to its website. This displays all charities that have registered with the Fundraising Regulator, including levy payers. The FR is encouraging all organisations displayed on the register to check that their complaint handler information has been included, and if not, to update this information as soon as possible using the form available.

Fundraising Preference Service

The FR’s July newsletter reports:

  • as of 11th July the service had received a total of 4015 requests made by 2007 unique members of the public.
  • the FR has created targeted resources for charities working with vulnerable people, which may want to promote the service.   


The Law Commission has begun a consultation on overhauling the law relating to wills.  The consultation will run until 10 November 2017.  It is available to view and respond to here.

Fundraising training

Charities can now sign up for a range of free and low cost training opportunities through the Government’s small charities fundraising training programme.  The training is being run by the Foundation for Social Improvement (FSI) in partnership with the Small Charities CoalitionLocalgiving and the Charities Finance Group. 

Also see under Data protection.

Social enterprise

The Heritage Lottery Fund has published a research report “Social enterprise and rural places of worship in England”.  The research established that in all cases the presence of social enterprise had a positive impact on the sustainability of the place of worship. However, it showed that in order to be successful the needs of the wider community must be the starting point in the development of the social enterprise project, as solutions based on social enterprise need to service the needs of the community first and not the place of worship. The research additionally showed that the positive impacts of the social enterprises go beyond merely providing a much needed service and included benefits such as increased volunteering, social interaction and improved community cohesion.

Pioneer’s Post reports on the launch of Social Business Trust’s (SBT) free guide, ‘Unlocking Growth: The insider’s guide to scaling your social enterprise‘, which summarises what SBT has learnt about growing businesses during its six year programme of scaling social enterprises with funding and expertise from corporate partners such as British Gas.

Children’s services

Children’s minister Robert Goodwill has announced funding for 24 projects, as part of the Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme.



The Department for Education (DfE) has published updated guidance with advice for schools on preventing and tackling bullying.  The guidance applies to school leaders and school staff in all maintained schools and academies in England.

As part of the Government’s social mobility agenda, Justine Greening has named the schools that will act as Education Endowment Foundation Research Schools. These schools will get a share of £3.5million to gather and share evidence of best practice on social mobility to help teachers tackle this issue in their schools. 

The first round of the Teaching and Leadership Innovation Fund will go to fund programmes from September. 

DfE and Crown Commercial Service (CCS) are due to launch the second in a series of bulk buying deals (sometimes referred to as ‘aggregated deals’) for schools considering buying new tablets, laptops or desktop devices at the beginning of the autumn term.  CCS will publish full details of the deal on 4 September 2017. Schools will then have until 29 September 2017 to send CCS their equipment requirements.

The House of Commons Library has published a briefing paper discussing recent policy developments relating to grammar schools in England.


NCVO has published this blog “The VCSE Health Review one year on”. 

Faith based organisations

The government has published details of a new scheme to fund security measures to places of worship and associated community centres that are vulnerable to attack on racial, religious or ideological grounds.  Applications close on 17 August 2017.

Criminal justice

The Home Office is providing almost £100,000 new funding to tackle the issues around gang violence.

NCVO has published this blog “A changing funding landscape for charities involved in criminal justice”.

Data protection

A credit company responsible for sending nearly one million nuisance texts in six months has been fined £80,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

The ICO has published this blog summarising its ruling that Virgin Trains East Coast did not break data protection law when it published CCTV footage of Jeremy Corbyn looking for a seat on a service from London.  But the company did breach the law when it published images of other passengers on the same service.

Campaigning and elections

See under Charity Commission above.

The Prime Minister has asked the Committee on Standards in Public Life to conduct a review into the issue of intimidation experienced by Parliamentary candidates.  The review will recognise the important role of legitimate scrutiny of those standing for public office by the public and the press.


OSCR is reminding Scottish charities with a year end of 31 December to submit their annual return.

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Disclaimer – The information contained in this update is not intended to be a comprehensive update – it is our selection of the website announcements made in the week up to last Friday which we think will be of interest to charities and social enterprises. The content is necessarily of a general nature – specific advice should always be sought for specific situations.





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 July 18, 2017.