Bates Wells Briefing for Charities & Social Enterprises | 10 April

Bates Wells highlights

Charities, Social Enterprise

Charities and subsidiaries need to act promptly to avoid Information Commissioner Office fees of £2900 from 25th May. See today’s briefing for more details.

Today’s review covers the two week period from 26 March to 6th April.

At a glance

The Charity Commission has changed a number of its online forms for notifying events or seeking consent from the Commission.

The Charity Commission has issued a response to a report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights on freedom of speech in universities and the role of students’ unions.

The Court of Appeal has referred a case about VAT on investment management fees to the CJEU for guidance.

The European Commission has published an action plan on sustainable finance.

The Office for Civil Society, with support from the Crown Commercial Service has written an introductory guide to the Social Value Act for commissioners and policy makers.

The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator has published new guidance on Charities and Trading.

Charity Commission

Changes to forms

The Commission has launched its new digital services portal for charities, which now needs to be used for a number of services, including:

  • Changing a charity’s name
  • Changing a charity governing document
  • Removing a charity from the register
  • Sending in a charity’s annual return

The charity’s Charity Commission password will be required to complete the forms.

Human Rights Committee

The Commission has issued a response to a report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights on freedom of speech in universities welcoming the recognition the report gives to the Commission’s regulatory role and that it may be appropriate and necessary for the Commission to act when concerns are raised. The Commission provided evidence to the committee (see our last BWB Briefing for details) and will formally respond to the Committee’s report in due course. The Commission says that it recognises that the regulatory framework in this area can be difficult for students’ unions to navigate and has committed to reviewing its guidance “Protecting your charity from harm” (which applies to all charities) and also its internal guidance on students’ unions to ensure a clearer distinction is made between the roles and responsibilities of the trustees of students’ unions, the student societies that are members of students’ unions and the students themselves.

Alert on CEO fraud

The Commission has issued an alert warning charities about the increase in “CEO fraud”, where a fraudster impersonates a senior figure at a charity and then requests transfers of funds. Action Fraud has seen an increase in these types of cases, with the most recent reports involving the targeting of schools where fraudsters have falsely claimed to be the head teacher or principal.

Sarah Atkinson comments on safeguarding

Civil Society Media reported that, in comments to the All Party Parliamentary Group on safeguarding, Sarah Atkinson, Director of Policy and Communications at the Charity Commission, said that politicians need to consider how safeguarding in charities should be regulated and that the Commission may struggle to handle safeguarding issues, because it cannot prosecute, and does not have the resources to handle a big increase in its caseload. She also suggested that there may be a need for a specialist unit to tackle international charities, due to the complexity of their governance arrangements, and the fact that issues under investigation are happening in other countries.

Tax and VAT

Charity Tax Group reports that the Court of Appeal has referred a VAT case to the CJEU for guidance. Previously the Upper Tribunal had upheld the First tier Tribunal’s decision in HMRC v University of Cambridge that the University was entitled to recover certain VAT incurred on the investment management fees that it incurs. These costs relate to the management of the significant endowment fund, made up primarily of donations and other gifts. Because the income from the endowment fund was distributed across the University in support of all of its activities (which include VAT exempt education as well as taxable supplies of research, academic publishing and consultancy services), the VAT on these costs could be treated as an overhead of the entire activities that were being carried out. HMRC’s appeal to the Court of Appeal triggered the reference to the CJEU. See here for the Court of Appeal judgment.


The House of Commons Committee on Public Accounts has published a report on “The future of the National Lottery”.

The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists (WCIT) Charity has announced its first ever Charity IT Award worth up to £750,000. Applications are open to all UK registered charities with an annual income between £2m and £10m, running a project that uses the innovative power of IT to tackle clearly identified needs of either young people’s education or those contending with disadvantage, disability or social exclusion.

Data protection


BWB is flagging that charities and their subsidiaries need to act promptly to avoid a possible Information Commissioner Office (ICO) fee of £2,900 being levied later this year. From 25 May, a new charging structure is being introduced by the ICO. Under this new structure, charities may be liable to pay a default annual fee of £2,900 unless either:

  • the ICO is likely to know from information it already holds that the organisation is a charity; or
  • the charity provides information to the ICO to evidence its charitable status

Charities satisfying the ICO of their charitable status will be eligible to pay a reduced fee of £40 or could be wholly exempt from the charging structure. For more background, see this Briefing by BWB’s Victoria Hordern and Michael Charalambous.

In a wide-ranging technical piece for leading trade magazine Data Protection Leader, Victoria Hordern, Head of Data Privacy at Bates Wells Braithwaite, has written on what organisations need to be aware of when processing special categories of data under the GDPR. In this article Victoria describes how rules governing special categories of data are set out in Articles 6 and 9 of the GDPR and, specifically, “what makes these Article 9 categories so special” for individuals considering the implications of GDPR for their respective organisations. Concluding her piece, Victoria also expresses regret that the GDPR lacks a “specific harm-based test for special categories of data that focuses on types of processing that are more likely to impact individuals”.

Recent ICO fines

Royal Mail Group Ltd has been fined £12,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) after sending more than 300,000 nuisance emails.

Humberside Police has been fined £130,000 after disks containing a video interview of an alleged rape victim went missing.


Fundraising Regulator

Gerald Oppenheim has been appointed as the new Chief Executive of the Fundraising Regulator starting on 1 July 2018. Oppenheim is currently Head of Policy and Communications at the FR.

Corporate fundraising

New Philanthropy Capital has published:

  • A research report Charities taking charge – this revealed that over the next three years, 41% of charities surveyed expect to be partnering more with private sector organisations and some 70 per cent of donations made by corporates to charities are under £5,000, suggesting most partnerships are “small and short-term”.
  • Building impactful corporate charity partnerships a guide to how the relationship between charities and corporates can be made to work better for both.


See here for BWB’s latest Legacies Roundup. Since the last edition, BWB’s Legacies, Trusts & Probate Disputes team has been busy advising on various new charity legacy cases. These include a potential challenge to a statutory will under the Human Rights Act, a particularly sensitive case of an elderly and vulnerable claimant seeking to challenge a charity legacy under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, and a request from a surviving spouse to restructure and delay a legacy left to charity.

Also see under Northern Ireland below.


EU Funding

The Work and Pensions Committee has published a short report which finds that the UK has a rare opportunity to “create a truly world-leading successor” to the European Social Fund and urges government to ensure that funds are available so there is no gap between the existing and new provision.

.eu Domain names

The European Commission has published a notice on the consequences of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU in relation to the .eu top level domain (TLD). The notice explains that from 30 March 2019:

  • Undertakings and organisations established in the UK but not in the EU, and natural persons who are UK residents, will no longer be able to register .eu domain names or, if they are already .eu registrants, be able to renew .eu domain names registered before the withdrawal date.
  • The .eu TLD Registry will be entitled, on its own initiative and without submitting the dispute to any extrajudicial settlement, to revoke registered domain names where, after the withdrawal date, as a result of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, a holder does not fulfil the eligibility criteria.

In seeking revocation of speculative or abusive registrations because the domain name is identical, or confusingly similar to, a name in respect of which a right is recognised or established by national or EU law, it will no longer be possible to rely on rights which are only recognised or established in the UK.

Children’s services

A range of measures are being launched to provide support for children with special educational needs and disabilities. They include 14 new special free schools which will provide more than 1,100 quality school places for children with multiple learning needs, including children with autism and mental health needs.

New funding for organisations to research ways of supporting disadvantaged families during the school holidays has been launched by the Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi. The £2 million investment will go towards exploring how best to help the most disadvantaged children to benefit from healthy meals and enriching activities.



See under Children’s services above.

At the end of March, the Department of Education announced over £500 million funding to improve and expand school buildings across the country.

The new careers guidance law introduced in January 2018 requires all maintained schools and academies to provide opportunities for a range of education and training providers to have access to pupils, to inform them about approved technical education qualifications and apprenticeships. To comply, schools must publish a policy statement on their website setting out how providers can request access.

Higher Education

The student loan repayment threshold has risen to £25,000 per year.

The Edge Foundation, which promotes the importance of technical and creative education among 14-19 year olds, has launched the Edge Grant Fund which is offering a total of £1m for projects that build on proven models of success or test new approaches to education and learning. Applications must be made by 3 May and projects must fulfil at least one of the charity’s funding themes.

Adult learning

The government has announced £11.7 million for 32 new projects to help adults learn new skills. The Flexible Learning Fund will support 32 innovative projects across England “to encourage more people to take part in new training or courses that will help them progress in current employment or secure a new job”.

Social finance

Power to Change’s Community Business Fund is accepting applications from 24 April to 22 May 2018. The fund will award grants between £50,000 – £300,000 to community businesses in England. A webinar on 26 April will provide interested organisations with an overview of the eligibility criteria.

The Loan Market Association together with the Asia Pacific Loan Market Association published the Green Loan Principles: Supporting environmentally sustainable economic activity which sets out a framework of market standards and voluntary guidelines that participants are encouraged to adopt across the wholesale green loan market.

The European Commission has published an action plan on sustainable finance. This is a part of the Capital Markets Union’s efforts to connect finance with the specific needs of the European economy to benefit the planet and our society. The Commission will report on the implementation of the action plan in 2019.


The Office for Civil Society, with support from the Crown Commercial Service has written an introductory guide to the Social Value Act (SVA) for commissioners and policy makers. This guidance is aimed at those in commissioning, policy-making or operational roles who need to procure a service on behalf of bodies defined as contracting authorities under the Public Contracts Regulations 2015.

Housing and homelessness

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has set out a cross-government plan of action to significantly reduce the number of people sleeping rough.

The government says thousands of long-term empty properties across England could be brought back into use as new legislation is introduced to allow councils across England to charge double the rate of Council Tax on homes left empty for years.

Third Sector shares news of the launch of the “Safe, Secure, Settled fund”, a £4m fund by Comic Relief to give grants to projects that use sport to improve the lives of young people without secure places to live. The deadline for applications is midday on 14 June 2018. Click here to apply.

International development

BOND reports the Department for International Development (DFID) has released the annual Statistics on International Development report, which provides preliminary statistics on how much Official Development Assistance (ODA) the UK provided in 2017.

BOND also reports Shadow secretary of state for international development Kate Osamor has launched Labour’s new vision for international development. “A world for the many not the few” [PDF] highlights Labour’s key priorities within international development and announced 34 actions it would take if it were in government.

The British Council is launching the program ‘Developing Inclusive and Creative Economies’ (DICE) to promote sustainable and inclusive development in the UK and five emerging economies (Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan and South Africa). DICE will engage with policymakers, help with the commissioning of surveys and provide funding for interventions by UK intermediary organisations.

Also see under Charities and banking below.

Charities and banking

Charity Finance Group has published an updated assessment of bank de-risking and the impact on the UK charity sector. The report highlights that charities are struggling to use mainstream banks because of money laundering and counter-terrorism regulations. The report has found that national and international laws have disproportionately impacted charities.


OSCR has published new guidance on Charities and Trading.

OSCR is reminding charitable companies about the format of accounts which are applicable to them.

OSCR’s latest blogpost is on GDPR and direct marketing, written by Alison Johnston of the ICO.

Northern Ireland

CCNI has issued a statutory inquiry update into its inquiry into 100 Help the Homeless (NIC100203). This is the first statutory inquiry opened into a Northern Irish charity that is in default of its annual accounting and reporting obligations. As part of the ongoing investigation, CCNI has issued an order to remove a charity trustee with immediate effect, due to mismanagement and misconduct.

The Fundraising Regulator has launched its Fundraising Preference Service in Northern Ireland.





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 April 10, 2018.