Bates Wells Briefing for Charities and Social Enterprises | 12 December 2017

Bates Wells Highlights

Charities, Social Enterprise

This is the last Bates Wells Briefing for 2017 – our next one will be sent out the week beginning 8th January.

We wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

This Christmas, we are supporting Go Forward Youth, a Stephen Lloyd Award recipient, in its Christmas event for care leavers. To learn more, please visit

At a glance 

The Charity Commission has published a new strategy setting out its role and approach in dealing with safeguarding issues in charities.

Sir Stuart Etherington has produced a wide-ranging report “Voluntary Action: A Way Forward”.

HM Treasury has published its final consultation response, confirming its proposals for reforming the Gift Aid donor benefits rules from April 2019. 

A new scheme has been launched that aims to double the number of volunteers working in the NHS by 2021.

The Competition and Markets Authority has published the final report on its market study into care homes for the elderly.

The Association of Chairs has published “Managing difficult board dynamics” which looks at the Chair’s role in influencing the culture and behaviour on the board.

Charity Commission

Safeguarding strategy

The Commission has published a new strategy setting out its role and approach in dealing with safeguarding issues in charities.

In the accompanying press release, the Commission says that safeguarding is a key governance priority for all charities, not just those working with groups traditionally considered at risk. It also states that the new strategy makes clear that safeguarding goes beyond preventing physical abuse, and includes protecting people from harm generally, including neglect, emotional abuse, exploitation, radicalisation, and the consequences of the misuse of personal data.

Consultation on Complementary and Alternative Medicine

The Commission has published a summary of key themes from the feedback it received from its Consultation on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), which ran between March and May this year.

The Commission received over 670 written responses to the consultation, which it says is far in excess of the number usually received for a commission consultation. It also held two discussion events for organisations with a particular perspective on the issues.

Given the high number of responses, and the amount of detail in some of them, the commission says it has taken longer than anticipated to analyse the responses. The Commission is continuing with its review of existing policy in respect of the registration of CAM organisations as charities. That review will result in a decision as to whether the commission’s current approach to CAM should be changed, and if so, what changes should be made. The responses received to the consultation will be considered as part of that review, in conjunction with other information, assessed against the legal framework governing charitable status.

Annual Return 2017

The CC Annual Return guidance states that charities can now submit their 2017 Annual Return. They need to submit the Annual Return for 2016 before submitting the 2017 return.

Conversion to CIO status: commencement order and final consequential amendment order

The following orders have now been published:

All four orders will come into force on 1 January 2018.


The Association of Chairs has published “Managing difficult board dynamics” which looks at the Chair’s role in influencing the culture and behaviour on the board.

Tax and VAT

Changes to Gift Aid donor benefit rules

HM Treasury has published its final consultation response, confirming its proposals for reforming the Gift Aid donor benefits rules from April 2019.  The government has decided to retain, but simplify, the relevant value test by replacing the three current monetary thresholds with two. The government will also legislate the effect of four extra-statutory concessions currently operated by HMRC that enable charities to provide benefits above and beyond the strict limits set out in the donor benefit rules. The government has dropped plans to introduce a low value benefits disregard.  The government plans to introduce legislation in the Finance Bill 2019, with changes coming into effect from 6 April 2019. Draft legislation and guidance will be published in 2018.  In addition, the government has confirmed that it will establish a working group to consider HMRC’s guidance and interpretation of legislation relating to donor benefits. 

Charity Tax Group is setting up a new Business Rates working group, in which members can share experiences of business rates with other charities. In the first instance, the group will only be open to charities – more details here.


Sir Stuart Etherington has written “Voluntary Action: A Way Forward”, a report setting out detailed recommendations for improving civil society.

Women’s charities can now bid for the latest £15 million round of the Tampon Tax Fund.  Civil Society Media reports Tampon Tax Fund grant terms and conditions include a clause banning charities from using the grant for advocacy and awareness raising.

Last week NAVCA held its Future Forward conference, which explored the future of social action and how we can be bold and responsive in the face of change – See here for video of the main sessions.   

IPPR has published a report on “Civil society support in the north of England”.  This report “explores what role civil society support organisations can play in a good society. Drawing on case study research with organisations in the north of England, interviews with stakeholders and data from the Third Sector Trends study, it presents some of the key opportunities and challenges for civil society support organisations, at a time when many established ways of working are shifting radically. It sets out a series of recommendations for how different organisations might need to adapt.”


Charity sector implications/Procurement

In the following report by Social Enterprise UK Chris White conducts a review of the Social Value Act’s effect on public sector spending. White’s report, which comes after a government-backed review completed in 2015, says Brexit will “surely eventually open up new opportunities for reforming the legal framework for commissioning and procurement in the UK”, with greater freedom to change competition, procurement and state-aid laws. There could also be more opportunity for favouring local providers in commissioning and procurement once the UK has left the European Union, the review says. 

Public services/local government

The Communities and Local Government Committee has opened an inquiry to examine the impact of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU on local government and the role councils could play post-Brexit. Clive Betts MP, Chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee, said:

“It’s important that local government is not overlooked in Brexit negotiations especially given the impact it might have on investment, development and funding for councils. There is also the central issue of returning powers from Brussels and the role local government can play post-Brexit. In our opening session, we will want to examine the priorities for negotiations and what would be the best outcome for local authorities.”

The inquiry is expected to run until early 2019.


Consultation on changes to Code relating to data protection

The Institute of Fundraising has published its response to the consultation here.  BWB has also published its response here.


Early years

In light of the national roll out of Universal Credit, the Department for Education has launched a consultationasking for views on how the government should continue to offer early years education to the families who should be receiving the 15 hours of free childcare for two-year-olds from disadvantaged families.

Higher education

The European Court of Human Rights has held by a majority that two professors’ Article 8 privacy rights were infringed by the University of Montenegro’s decision to install surveillance cameras in student auditoriums, with a view to protecting the safety of property and people, and monitoring teaching.

Children’s services

The Department of Health and the Department for Education have issued a joint consultation on draft guidance on Reducing the Need for Restraint and Restrictive Intervention: Children and Young People with Learning Disabilities, Autistic Spectrum Disorder and Mental Health Needs.The draft guidance is intended to have non-statutory, advisory status and to apply to maintained special schools, special academics, special free schools, children’s homes and local authority approved foster care placements, among others.  Responses to the consultation should be submitted via the consultation’s online response form by 24 January 2018.

Health and social care

Also see under Children’s services above.

Civil Society Media reports a new scheme has been launched that aims to double the number of volunteers working in the NHS by 2021. HelpForce has been set up by Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett as a Community Interest Company.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published the final report on its market study into care homes for the elderly. The CMA has identified two broad areas in which it considers there are problems in the market. The first is that people requiring care need greater support in choosing a care home and greater protections when they are residents. The second area concerns the current model of service provision, which the CMA considers cannot be sustained without additional public funding. The parts of the industry that supply primarily local authority-funded residents are unlikely to be sustainable at the current rates that local authorities pay and significant reforms are needed to enable the sector to grow to meet the expected substantial increase in care needs.

As well as proposed action to protect care home residents’ rights and compliance with consumer law, the CMA is making a series of recommendations to governments, sector regulators, local authorities and the care home industry. It plans to consult on new guidance on fees charged after death and on wider guidance for care homes on the standards of behaviour that they should be meeting to comply with consumer law. Better long-term planning and oversight is needed, and the CMA recommends that an independent body to oversee and support planning at a council level in England and Northern Ireland be established.

Also see under Health and safety below.

Social finance

Pioneers Post reports on Social Enterprise UK’s launch of its Fellowship Programme to recognise individuals who have contributed in a variety of ways to the social enterprise economy and movement, in the UK and around the world. The articles list the initial 15 Honorary SEUK Fellows which includes Lord John Bird MBE and Nigel Kershaw OBE. Nominations for the next cohort of Fellow will open in early 2018.

Seb Elsworth (Chief Executive of Access) writes for Third Sector of being visited by the ghosts of social investment past, present, and future. He concludes that we need to support the development of enterprise activity to help the sector become increasingly resilient. This will help build a society with less disadvantage.

Civil Society shares its view on the report, Funding and Functionality, by the accountancy firm RSM. This report has found that over 40% of charities are spending over 30% of their finance spend on manual transactional processing rather than “strategic investment in the team”. Many charities seem to be spending a significant amount of income on an inefficient model.

Civil Society reports on Mark Salway’s (director of social finance at the Centre for Charity Effectiveness at Cass Business School) conclusions from a series of six roundtables on different topics with different charity leaders. According to Salway, charities want a more open and honest relationship with funders, but funders don’t encourage real discourse. His findings will be published in a report next year.

Writing on Big Society Capital’s (BSC) blog, Joanna Heywood (Relationships Director at BSC) provides a summary of a recent Association of Charitable Foundations conference where representatives of three smaller foundations share their experiences and perspectives of making social investments. The blog helpfully summarises key learnings at the end which includes overcoming the perception of a lack of investment opportunities which relate to an organisation’s mission.

Geetha Rabindranath (Head of Engagement at Big Society Capital) reports on a fringe event BSC held at NCVO’s Trustee Conference and BSC’s GET INFORMED campaign. She outlines the key points made in the discussion at the session, which has also been shared via a podcast. Finally, she provides further information on the resources available as part of the campaign.

Social enterprise

A new report launched by Social Enterprise UK and Chris White, former MP and author of the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, says the UK Government is missing a trick with £243bn worth of public sector spending.  The report, Our Money, our Future, makes 5 simple recommendations:

  • The Act needs to be extended to all public spending, and also to decision making.
  • The Act needs to be strengthened requiring commissioners to “account for” not just “consider” social value.
  • Social value needs to be included in devolution deals.
  • These changes need to be supported by clearer statutory guidance by central government.
  • A biennial State of Social Value Audit conducted independently but with the support of the Government.

Social Enterprise UK has also issued this press release about the Government’s Industrial Strategy.


The Local Government Association has issued guidance on ‘Making Safeguarding Personal: What might “good” look like for those working in the housing sector?

Housing and Planning Minister Alok Sharma has announced that the Planning Delivery Fund is now open for bids.  It is described as supporting “local authorities and third sector organisations in areas of high housing need to plan for new homes and infrastructure”.


Heritage Minister John Glen has published the government’s Heritage Statement.  Measures in the statement include:

  • Launching a new Heritage Council, chaired by the Minister, to emphasise the value of the historic environment, build consensus and ensure greater coordination. 
  • A new commemorative scheme to be rolled out across England to mark and celebrate the events, people and places that have shaped local communities.
  • Exploring options to strengthen interim protection measures and reduce the risk of damage or destruction to sites while they are being considered for listing. 
  • Working with Historic England and Heritage Lottery Fund to support the digitisation of historic environment records and heritage archives to help councils make informed planning decisions and increase public appreciation for their local heritage.

Creative and culture

See here for an announcement about various Arts Council England General Council Member appointments and reappointments. 


See under Charity Commission and Housing above. 

Data protection

See under Brexit above.

A firm of loss adjusters has been found guilty of unlawfully disclosing personal data illegally obtained by senior members of their staff and private investigators.  A director and senior employee of the Kent-based firm, Woodgate and Clark Ltd, and the private investigators themselves have also been found guilty.  Sentencing is due on 5 January 2018.

Health and safety

A Local authority has been fined £100,000 following a conviction for a health and safety breach.  The background is that two social workers employed by London Borough of Brent visited the home of a vulnerable child to carry out a child safety plan assessment. The social workers were assaulted by the mother with a metal object.  One of the social workers was knocked temporarily unconscious and was later diagnosed with PTSD. Both suffered serious wounds to the head.   An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive identified that the local authority failed to follow the corporate lone working policy or violence and aggression guidance that it had implemented. No risk assessment was completed for the visit, and staff were not trained accordingly. London Borough of Brent also failed to add an aggression marker to make the social workers aware of the risk posed of a home visit where the parent had a history of violence. This risk could have been mitigated by arranging the visit at the office.  Violent incidents are the third biggest cause of injuries reported to Health and Safety Executive from the health and social care sector.

Human rights

See under Education, Higher Education above.


OSCR’s latest blog post is by Dougie Wands, Acting Lobbying Registrar, The Scottish Parliament, on the subject of The Lobbying (Scotland) Act 2016.

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 December 12, 2017.