Bates Wells Briefing for Charities and Social Enterprises | 14 February

Bates Wells highlights


The Charity Commission is consulting on new draft guidance for charities connected with non-charities. More information is available here.

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At a glance

The Charity Commission is seeking feedback on how they can improve their regulatory advice and guidance to better support charities working internationally.

The annual report of the Chief Schools Adjudicator has been published.

An independent review of foster care in England has been published.

The Committee on Standards in Public Life is undertaking a review of local government ethical standards.

Charity Commission

New guidance on charities connected with non-charities

The Charity Commission yesterday issued new draft guidance on its expectations for charities that have a ‘long-term close relationship’ with connected non-charities. The guidance is likely to be of particular relevance to:

  • Charities and their trading subsidiaries
  • Corporate foundations
  • Charities that operate within international federations
  • Dual structure campaigning charities
  • Social enterprise structures which include both a charity and non-charity

For more information and to help us influence the consultation click here.


The Charity Commission has announced that in conjunction with DFID it will be calling in key international aid charities to a summit on safeguarding as soon as possible in the coming weeks. The Commission press release says this will be “paving the way for a significant conference”. Separately a number of charities in receipt of funding from DFID have received letters from DFID asking for assurances in relation to safeguarding issues. If you would like advice in relation to these developments or safeguarding generally, please speak to your usual BWB contact or BWB Partner Emma Dowden-Teale.

Inquiry Report

The Commission has published its inquiry report into The Islamic Trust (Maidenhead) (1034710), see also the Commission’s press release. During the inquiry the Commission carried out a books and records inspection and found concerns relating to financial controls and governance, including only one current trustee (and three former trustees) being on the bank account mandate, not keeping a record of the charity’s collection boxes in shops across Maidenhead and non-compliance with section 39 Charities Act 2011 in relation to the solicitation of funds. On 8 December 2017, the Commission issued the charity with on Official Warning in respect of the trustees’ failure to ensure that they comply with charity law and the charity’s governing document in respect of the submission of the Charity’s annual report and annual return. The official warning sets out that the trustees must take all reasonable steps to ensure that future statutory returns are submitted on time, in accordance with charity law and the charity’s governing document.

Statement on Motability

The Commission has issued a statement about the charity Motability, following concerns raised in the media and in Parliament, making it clear it does not have jurisdiction over Motability Operations Group, which is not a charity.

Survey for International Charities

Through a short survey, the Charity Commission is seeking feedback on how they can improve their regulatory advice and guidance to better support charities working internationally – particularly those operating in high risk areas or carrying out activities which pose higher risks. The Commission says that the “survey should take no more than 10 to 15 minutes to complete and all individual responses are voluntary, anonymous and confidential. It is a chance for you to influence the content and development of the Charity Commission’s guidance, ensuring they not only cover the basics but also address some of the more challenging and complex areas. Whether you have read all, some or none of their guidance, your opinion matters. “ The survey closes on Sunday 25 March.

MoUs signed

The Commission has signed MoUs with the SRA and the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland.


ACEVO has published it’s annual Pay and Equalities Survey. The report examines chief executive salaries, benefits and job satisfaction in detail. It also explores the level of equality and diversity in our sector’s leadership, and satisfaction levels in the make-up and performance of boards.

BWB has launched a charity governance code toolkit. The downloadable resources from the Get Legal website are ideal for trustees and staff who want to assess how the Code applies to their current governance practices. The downloadable questionnaire (a version is available for large charities and another for small charities) presents an opportunity for charity governing boards to assess their performance against the Foundation principle and the seven principles outlined in the Charity Governance Code. The board can decide what areas need further work and where good practice can be captured to inform continuous development. The accompanying infographic, breaks the elements of good governance into smaller chunks and offers a roadmap to work towards governance effectiveness.

BWB is supporting the toolkit with a series of practical governance masterclasses which will guide participants through good practice pathways, offer an opportunities for governance players to meet each other, share ideas and support each other.


Fundraising Regulator

The Fundraising Regulator is due to publish a series of bitesize guidance to GDPR aimed at fundraisers in smaller charities. See here for a description of what it will cover.

President’s Club

Civil Society Media reports only one charity has so far asked formal permission to return donations to the President’s Club, although several charities have been in contact with the Charity Commission to discuss the process.


Charity sector implications

Civil Society Media reports that, speaking at the Institute of Fundraising’s Trust Fundraising Conference in London yesterday, Brendan Costelloe, senior external affairs officer at NCVO, said that a fall in European Economic Area workers coming to the UK, stagnating economic growth and UK charities being unable to access EU funding post-Brexit, all posed dangers to the voluntary sector.

Third Sector reports Sir Stuart Etherington told a London conference last week that charities’ reluctance to campaign during the Brexit referendum campaign makes it more likely for them to be seen as neutral on the issue and that NCVO has refused to endorse a statement calling for UK to stay in the single market.



The annual report of the Chief Schools Adjudicator has been published. The report records the progress made by admission authorities in England in complying fully with the School Admissions Code and achieving fair access to schools for all children. The report states that the main admissions rounds for entry to schools works well and serves well the interests of looked-after and previously looked-after children, those with disabilities and special needs or who are vulnerable for other reasons. The Chief Adjudicator is less confident that the needs of children who need a place outside the normal admissions round are so well met and is concerned that some children, particularly the more vulnerable, spend more time out of school than they should.

Health and social care

An independent review of foster care in England has been published, setting out recommendations to improve the fostering system for children and foster carers. It makes 36 recommendations for government, local authorities and independent fostering agencies including:

  • Ensuring foster carers are supported and included in decision-making;
  • Improving foster placement commissioning, and matching;
  • Greater stability and permanence for children and young people in foster care.

NAVCA reports a consensus has been launched which outlines an agreement between policing, health and voluntary sector partners to work together to improve people’s health and wellbeing, prevent crime and protect the most vulnerable people in England. Policing, Health and Social Care: working together to protect and prevent harm to vulnerable people has been developed by a number of partners including NAVCA, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, Clinks, Nacro, Public Health England and NHS England. It provides a focus for the police service, health and social care services and voluntary and community sector to use shared capabilities and resources more effectively.

Social finance

The European Commission’s High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance has released its final report which maps out the challenges and opportunities for the EU in developing a sustainable finance policy. Among other suggestions, the report proposes an EU-wide label for green investment funds and a European standard for green bonds. The report can be found here.

A new book “Shaping the Corporate Landscape – Towards Corporate Reform and Enterprise Diversity” investigates a wide range of corporate governance models emerging as alternatives to the shareholder corporation. These include employee-owned, cooperative and social enterprises. Also in the book BWB’s David Hunter shares his thoughts on the Arrival of B Corps in Britain. The book can be purchased here.

Big Society Capital (BSC) has launched a £30 million fund for Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs). The fund is known as the Community Investment Enterprise Facility, which was established by BSC and is managed by Social Investment Scotland. Over the next 3 years, it is hoped that at least a further £30 million will be raised through socially motivated investors. Rebecca McCartney (Investment Associate at BSC) notes that the launch of this fund is in line with BSC’s new areas of strategic focus.

Social Finance has released a paper summarising its views on how a shift from traditional aid to Outcomes Funds could ensure an improvement in accountability (which is the fundamental rationale of impact bonds) while also achieving scalability.

Social impact

This new guide “What Works Wellbeing” has been designed specifically to help small and medium-sized charities evaluate their impact on wellbeing. It contains useful step by step information including what to measure and the type of questions to ask.

Social enterprise

Bates Wells Braithwaite, UnLtd and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport have developed the world’s first free-to-use tool to help business owners put a purpose beyond profit at the heart of their business. Businesses with a purpose beyond profit are committed to fulfilling a social, economic or environmental goal. There are more than 1.2 million of them in the UK. If you would like to put purpose at the heart of your business, find out more at

The latest ESELA newsletter is available here.

See here for a list of community interest companies registered in January 2018.

The Office of the Regulator of Community Interest Companies has published “Do’s and don’ts of completing an application to incorporate a CIC”.


Tracey Crouch, Minister for Sport and Civil Society has announced a total of £1.2 million will be available to create new Mutuals, or strengthen existing ones, by providing access to advice across areas including legal, financial, marketing, human resources and business planning. This round of funding will be available until March 2020 and follows the £572k that was awarded in 2017 to support Mutuals. This is an exciting new opportunity for organisations delivering public services across a wide range of sectors. BWB will be working as part of a consortium of advisors including Baxendale and Mutual Ventures to deliver support under the programme. Please speak to Abbie Rumbold, [email protected] or Augustus Della Porta [email protected] for more details.

Charities working overseas

See under Charity Commission above.

Bond has commented on DFID’s recently published transparency agenda.

Faith based organisations

On 1 February, the Home Office published the report of the independent review chaired by Professor Mona Siddiqui into the application of sharia law by sharia councils in England and Wales.


BWB has provided pro bono legal expertise to the NCVO for “Volunteers and the law”, its updated guidance document on the current legal status of voluntary work. At a time when the definition of what represents a volunteering opportunity has become the source of confusion for many charities, this guidance, entitled “Volunteers and the Law”, has been revised in order to provide additional clarity on the legal rights and obligations that underpin this area.

Local government

The Committee on Standards in Public Life is undertaking a review of local government ethical standards. The terms of reference for the review are to:

  • examine the structures, processes and practices in local government in England for:
  • maintaining codes of conduct for local councillors
  • investigating alleged breaches fairly and with due process
  • enforcing codes and imposing sanctions for misconduct
  • declaring interests and managing conflicts of interest
  • whistleblowing
  • assess whether the existing structures, processes and practices are conducive to high standards of conduct in local government
  • make any recommendations for how they can be improved
  • note any evidence of intimidation of councillors, and make recommendations for any measures that could be put in place to prevent and address such intimidation

The review will consider all levels of local government in England, including town and parish councils, principal authorities, combined authorities (including Metro Mayors) and the Greater London Authority (including the Mayor of London). As part of the review, it is carrying out a consultation which closes on 18 May 2018.


OSCR is reminding Scottish charities of the requirements to disclose they are charities on certain documents.

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 February 14, 2018.