Bates Wells Briefing for Charities and Social Enterprises | 23 January

Bates Wells Highlights

Charities, Social Enterprise

Bates Wells has produced a detailed briefing on the new automatic trustee disqualification provisions coming into force later this year.  The briefing highlights practical steps charities  can take now to prepare for this. See here for details.

At a glance

HMRC has withdrawn its ChA1 form from its website, replacing it with an “application for recognition from HMRC for your charity”.

HMRC has published new internal guidance on grants and contracts.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has launched a new inquiry to investigate the ways in which taking part in the arts, cultural activities and sport can have a positive impact on health, community and education.

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland’s registration list has been renamed “the combined list”.

Charity Commission

Register statistics

The Commission has published its latest Register statistics showing that the number of charities on the Register has risen to 168,237.

Annual Return

The Commission is reminding charities with financial years ending 31 March 2017 that they must file their annual return by 31 January 2018.

Fraud guidance

The Commission’s guidance “Protect your charity from fraud” has been updated to include a new infographic about reporting fraud.

Charity law cases

In the First Tier (Charity) Tribunal a trustee, Mr Swettenham has been unsuccessful in his appeal against orders made by the Commission under s. 76(3) (d) and (f) of the Charities Act 2011, restricting transactions through the Charity’s main bank account and an associated bank account at Lloyds bank, and also restricting the use of its credit card without the Charity Commission’s prior authorisation.

There are also two new appeals filed by Graham Hipkiss and Yusuf Kennan Oguz.  No details have been given.

Tax and VAT

It appears HMRC has withdrawn its ChA1 form from its website. There now only appears to be the option of registering with HMRC for charity tax reliefs through the online portal and not by a paper method.


Eastside Primetimers have published “The Good Merger Index 2016/17.  Their overall commentary states “Our core finding this year is that charity mergers remain rare, despite strong examples of parts of the sector responding to the need for change and some promising developments to help facilitate the progress of charity mergers. In the year for 2016/2017, 70 mergers involving 142 organisations were seen, representing about 0.09% of the sector’s 167,000 charities. However, we note three interesting ‘hotspots’ of activity with their own unique drivers – federated charities, supported housing and mental health – and these together comprised 36% of total mergers in 2016/17. Interviews with chief executives in this space further reveal how some of these organisations are partnering for impact in the face of constraints on state funding, reforms and regulatory pressures.”

Data protection

Recent ICO fines

A company which made 75 million nuisance calls in four months has been fined £350,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).


Charity sector implications

The following blog by Rob Abercrombie of New Philanthropy Capital explains how Brexit will impact charities’ missions as well as their funding.

The following report by Bond proposes options for UK-European civil society organisation collaboration in the lead up to and following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

Human Rights, Equality and Discrimination

Suella Fernandes MP has claimed that the UK’s plan to drop the EU charter of fundamental rights after Brexit would help avoid an “extra layer” of human rights, contradicting the government’s assurance that no protections would be lost.

Social finance

Third Sector has carried out a survey of 194 charities and has found that a third of these are earning less than 0.1 per cent on their bank deposits when the Bank of England base rate is 0.5 per cent.

Social impact

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has launched a new inquiry to investigate the ways in which taking part in the arts, cultural activities and sport can have a positive impact on health, community and education. The Committee is especially interested in specific case studies of success and is requesting for evidence from the public, organisations and others with relevant expertise by February 22, 2018.  

New Philanthropy Capital has published:

  • A “light-touch and practical framework for comparing an organisation’s approach to impact against best practice”
  • A guide to ‘Knowledge and Learning’ for social projects which want to grow or scale up

Higher education

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has announced £144,261 of funding for a new programme to support universities in tackling antisemitism on campus.


On 11 January 2018, a new housing agency, Homes England replaced the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).   The government has confirmed that the Regulator of Social Housing will be separated and established as a standalone organisation. Homes England will meanwhile be a commercially-focused land and investment agency.


The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has published its 25-year plan to improve the natural environment in England within a generation. The 25-year plan sits alongside two other important recently-launched government strategies, its Industrial Strategy and its Clean Growth Strategy. The plan includes commitments on:

  • Cutting plastics waste
  • Climate change
  • Air quality
  • Improving wildlife protection and increasing habitats
  • A net environmental gain principle for housing and infrastructure developers

International development

Senior government ministers have agreed championing girls’ education to promote global stability will be at the heart of UK foreign, development and defence policy “to positively transform the lives of women and girls in conflict settings”.

As part of the inquiry into Official Development Assistance, Bond chief executive Tamsyn Barton appeared as the first witness to give oral evidence to the International Development Select Committee.  See here for a summary of her evidence.


See under Social impact above.

Culture and creative

See under Social impact above.

Procurement and state aid

The government has launched a new public services contract for facilities management aimed at small and medium sized enterprises.  The government’s announcement explains that the Government Legal Department (GLD) has condensed the existing Crown Commercial Service (CCS) contract terms into a new public sector contract.


OSCR has publicised the GDPR FAQs for charities from the ICO.

Northern Ireland

CCNI’s registration list has been renamed “the combined list”.

CCNI is also publicising material from the ICO on GDPR, including the FAQs for charities.

CCNI has launched a survey seeking feedback on the Annual Monitoring Return and is also remindingcharities that many of them are close to their annual return deadline.

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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 January 23, 2018.