Bates Wells Briefing for Charities & Social Enterprises | 20 February

Bates Wells highlights

Social Enterprise

The Charity Commission has announced a “suite of steps on safeguarding”.

Bates Wells has launched a charity governance code toolkit. See here for details.

At a glance

The Fundraising Regulator has made changes to the Code of Fundraising Practice to take account of new data protection laws.

The Prime Minister has launched a wide-ranging review into post-18 education.

The government has published its response to the Commission on Dormant Assets.

Charity Commission


The Charity Commission has made an announcement about a “suite of steps on safeguarding”. The measures include the (previously announced) joint summit with DfID for charities and umbrella bodies working internationally, as well as a second summit for charities and umbrella bodies working in the UK, to be co-chaired by the Minister for Civil Society, Tracey Crouch MP. Both summits will involve charity regulators in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Commission is establishing a taskforce to deal with an increased volume of safeguarding serious incident reports. The team will also undertake “proactive work” to ensure prompt and full reporting of serious safeguarding incidents, and give advice to charities reporting safeguarding incidents on appropriate actions. The Commission says it will intervene in serious cases where it is concerned that trustees are not fulfilling their legal duties. The Commission is also reissuing its previous regulatory alert to all charities emphasising the importance of full and frank disclosure. Helen Stephenson has said she wants the Commission to review the way in which it communicates with informants who raise serious regulatory concerns that result in regulatory action.

The Commission has issued a call for information about the Presidents’ Club dinner.


See under Charity Commission above and below under Scotland and Northern Ireland.


The government has published its response to the Commission on Dormant Assets’ report. Among other things, it confirms the government’s commitment to:

  • support industry to expand the dormant assets scheme to include a wider range of financial assets, potentially including the insurance and pensions, investment and wealth management, and securities sectors
  • retain the main principles of the scheme, including that customers should be able to reclaim dormant money at any time and that firms’ participation in the scheme should be voluntary

NPC has published a new report “Tapping the potential”. Researched and authored by NPC for The Richmond Group of Charities, it captures learning from the initial stages of an approach to building meaningful collaboration between the voluntary sector and public bodies.

Data protection

ICO enforcement

A company that has already been fined for making nuisance calls has now been prosecuted in a criminal court for continuing to break the law.


Charity sector implications

The following blog by Jane Thomas (Co-ordinator of the Repeal Bill Alliance) considers how charities can help protect rights and standards post-Brexit.

Brexit and the UK constitution

The UK Constitutional Law Association blog has published an article reacting to the House of Lords’ Constitution Committee report on the retained EU law in the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.

Tax and VAT

Gift Aid

The National Audit Office (NAO) – University of Birmingham Tax Centre launched on 23 January 2018. It will:

  • Identify and conduct research on tax issues.
  • Encourage debate, stimulate ideas and exchange knowledge through events and networks.
  • Enable government bodies, academics and tax practitioners to discuss needs and practical challenges in a ‘safe place’.

At the launch event, the Tax Centre presented a case study on Gift Aid, which started with an NAO study and was followed by several years of in-depth independent academic research.


Code changes

The Fundraising Regulator has made changes to the Code of Fundraising Practice to take account of new data protection laws. The changes are published alongside a summary of consultation responses received from data protection specialists, sector bodies, charities and the public between October and December 2017. The new Code rules will come into effect from 25 May 2018 at the same time that the new General Data Protection Regulation is incorporated into UK law.

The revised Code sets out the rules for fundraisers regarding personal data. The Fundraising Regulator says the changes:

  • Ensure consistent terminology between the Code & GDPR;
  • Emphasise that any activity involving personal data (including wealth screening, data matching, tele-appending and reuse of public information) falls under processing and that data protection rules apply; Create new sections on Data Protection and Direct Marketing;
  • Add and expand definitions for key terms, including “processing”, “consent” and “legitimate Interest”; Increase links to existing guidance from the ICO, the Fundraising Regulator and other relevant bodies.

The revisions also highlight those areas that may be subject to further change when the new Data Protection Bill is enacted and PECR is reviewed.

Fundraising Regulator

The Fundraising Regulator’s February newsletter includes that:

  • It recently held two roundtable events to invite discussion and feedback from smaller charities within the sector. The first brought together umbrella bodies, while the second invited smaller charities themselves. The FR says “On both occasions we were able to explore some of the main regulatory issues faced by smaller organisations, to understand how we can better support regulatory compliance across the sector. We will soon publish a wider survey to gather more feedback and inform our future engagement and policy initiatives.”
  • In July 2017, the Taylor review of modern working practices was published. It makes a number of recommendations for Government regarding modern working arrangements, including agency working. The FR says “Charities are advised to read this to understand the potential implications for existing and future contracts they may have with third parties, including working arrangements for professional fundraisers.”


Higher education

See here for a government press release about the Prime Minister’s launch of a wide-ranging review into post-18 education.

The High Court has dismissed a claim by an Oxford graduate who claimed that ‘inadequate’ teaching at the university cost him a lucrative career as a high-flying lawyer.

Health and social care

The National Audit Office has published a report, The adult social care workforce in England. The report is critical of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), finding that the DHSC is not doing enough to support a sustainable care workforce. The report states that the demand for care is increasing, care needs are becoming more complex, and to meet these challenges the care workforce will need to grow by 2.6% annually until 2035. In this context, the report finds that local authority funding for adult social care has been decreasing since 2010-11, due to central government funding cuts, and that care providers are finding it difficult to attract and retain staff. Poor pay and conditions and increasing turnover among care workers are also highlighted. The NAO has found that the DHSC has no national strategy to address the workforce challenge, and recommends that it produce a national workforce strategy with the support of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee has published a report concluding that none of the three contractors carrying out assessments for the purposes of the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP), have met the quality performance targets required of them. Here’s the report.

Social finance

FCA and FOS respond to report on growing culture of social impact investing UK

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) have responded to a report, published in November 2017 by a UK government Independent Advisory Group on growing a culture of social impact investing in the UK. The group was asked to consider whether the providers of savings, pensions and investments can engage with individuals to enable them to support more easily the things that they care about through their savings and investment choices. It identified five key action areas – improve deal flow and the ability to invest at scale, strengthen competence and confidence within the financial services industry, develop better reporting of non-financial outcomes, make it easier for people to invest and maintain momentum and build cohesion across initiatives. The FCA’s letter in response to the report included the following comments:

  • Terminology: FCA has previously defined the term “social investing” and supports the work of the advisory group in seeking to set out and maintain a terminology with regard to social impact.
  • Investment trusts: The emergence of investment trusts with an impact investing mandate demonstrates that there is space for investment products with a social angle.
  • Innovate: The advisory group is welcome to promote the FCA’s Project Innovate to firms as they seek to develop better reporting of non-financial outcomes and consider the types of financial instruments to make available to investors.

The FOS said it plans to review and improve its communications on promoting a culture on social impact investment and savings, including its online technical resource. It aims to provide greater clarity about its approach to complaints about social impact investments, including with regard to non-financial losses, and the basis on which it would make awards.

The Climate Bond Initiative has published a study, conducted with the support of the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, to explore the contribution of sub-national public sector entities to green finance in selected Northern European countries. The report finds that the public sector accounts for 48% of the region’s green bond market with issuance to date amounting to €9.4bn. The report details potential opportunities in the Nordics and Baltics. Download the full report here.

Social Investment Business, which manages Big Lottery Fund’s Big Potential Breakthrough (BPB) Fund has published an evaluation report. The BPB Fund of £10m was launched to make grants of between £25,000 – £75,000 to enable charities to carry out “in-depth investment readiness work”. The report notes that the fund has issued £6.6m worth of grants to 221 charities, 11 of these have secured a combined 17 social investment deals worth £2.8m. Around 208 grant applications have been rejected and 14 are awaiting a decision. Download the full report here.

Civil Society reports on Scope’s announcement to investment £375,000 in a new scheme to support start-up businesses which provide employment solutions for disabled people. Scope will be supporting Thrive, a funding programme launched by UnLtd., to support and fund 60 social ventures over three years. Scope will be supporting 24 of these, over the next three years, which are aimed at disabled people. The funding amounts will vary between £25,000 to £75,000 and where possible, it will be used to leverage further external investment.

Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has up to £15m to invest in businesses to develop novel products and services or a further £10m to work on projects with graduates. The competition opens on 1 March 2018 and the deadline for applications is 9 May 2018.

The Government has published its response to the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices. The Taylor Review (published on 11 July 2017) made recommendations to improve the working conditions of atypical workers and individuals in the gig economy. In its response, the Government has drawn attention to, for example, the tougher reporting framework that would come into force on implementation of the corporate governance reforms announced in August 2017. Under these reforms, companies would need to be more specific about how directors have, in complying with their duties, taken account of wider matters including the interests of employees, relationships with suppliers etc. Download the full report here.

Responsible business

From January – the Joint Committee on Human Rights published the Government’s response to the Committee’s 2016 report, ‘Human Rights and Business 2017: Promoting responsibility and ensuring accountability’. JCHR says “While the inquiry and subsequent report were very thorough, the Government response over-emphasises the impact of current initiatives and fails to engage meaningfully with the committee’s recommendations.”


OSCR has issued a statement on charity concerns about sexual misconduct and a suggestion to trustees to consider the topics of safeguarding and notifiable events at trustee meetings.

Northern Ireland

CCNI has issued an alert for charities working with vulnerable beneficiaries.

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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 February 20, 2018.