Bates Wells Briefing for Charities & Social Enterprises | 18 July

Bates Wells highlights

Charities, Social Enterprise

Recently unveiled at an event, Bates Wells’ new Charity Hub is now fully launched, with our first tenant, Social Business Trust due to move in. Read about this further in this news item.

At a glance

The Charity Commission has published its annual report and accounts for the year 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018.

The Charity Commission has published the latest research report abut public trust and confidence in charities.

The Fundraising Regulator has published decisions relating to the Presidents Club Charitable Trust and Brain Tumour Research.

Charity Commission

Annual Report and Accounts 2017/18

The Charity Commission has published its annual report and accounts for the year 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018.

Trust in Charities 2018

The Commission has published the latest research report abut public trust and confidence in charities which was undertaken by Populus and a press release summarising the key findings. The findings are based on a representative online survey of 2,059 adults in England and Wales.

The key findings section of the report says that overall trust and confidence in charities remains at similar levels to 2016 when the research was last carried out. In both years, scandals reported in the media involving major humanitarian charities (which are also the type of organisation the public instinctively think of when they think about ‘charities’) occurred before the polling took place, negatively impacting overall trust and confidence. Nevertheless, the sector holds up well compared with others. It is still more trusted, for instance, than private companies, banks, and politicians. However, it remains less trusted than “the average man or woman in the street”. Most of those polled think that the Commission’s regulation is effective and those who know at least a fair amount about the Charity Commission are more likely to trust charities. The public still think the sector plays an important role in society – they simply want it to evidence the positive effect it has with their generosity. Words are not enough; the public expect trustworthy behaviour and proven impact.

Case report – Presidents Club Charitable Trust

The Commission has published a case report into Presidents Club Charitable Trust (1017310) and also a press release.

The Commission’s engagement began when there was significant media reporting of the Presidents Club fundraising dinner in January 2018, involving allegations of harassment of female staff. The charity then made a serious incident report relating to the event.

The Commission concludes in the report that the trustees acted in good faith and what they honestly considered to be the charity’s best interests. However, it also concluded that the trustees’ decision making was not sufficiently informed and that the trustees did not take account of all relevant factors, including the risks that the event posed to the charity’s reputation especially in relation to the purchase of clothing for female staff to wear and instructions on how female staff should appear. The Commission’s own call for information did not result in anyone coming forward with allegations of harassment or improper behaviour. The Commission says that it considered its regulatory options after finding the trustees had breached a number of their duties and given that the trustees intend to wind up the charity after collecting in as much of the funds raised at the event and distributing them, the proportionate action was to issue the trustees with a Regulatory Action Plan requiring them to take certain steps including the collection of sums due to the charity, including collection of funds arising from successful auction bids and the collection of outstanding pledges including those from potential patrons of the charity. The Commission has also issued the trustees with formal regulatory advice under section 15(2) of the Charities Act 2011 in relation to the breaches of their duties.

The Commission’s case report notes that the Fundraising Regulator has confirmed in its own decision about the case that there had been breaches of the Code of Fundraising Practice (see under Fundraising below). The Commission also notes that the trustees did not take account of the Charity Governance Code in organising the event, which states that trustees should make sure that “the charity operates responsibly and ethically, in line with its own aims and values”. The Code is voluntary and the Commission has not directly criticised the trustees for not following it in the case report, but the inference is that non-compliance with the Code is an additional factor leading to the conclusion that the trustees did not act with reasonable care and skill.

Tax and VAT

The Institute of Fundraising has submitted its response to the Tax Commission Call for Evidence.


These three articles from ICSA’s Governance and Compliance publication are published alongside the comment that “sustainability has moved to be front and centre of the corporate narrative”:

Also see under Scotland.


ACEVO, along with the Institute of Fundraising, has published a report in which it asks charity leaders to sign up to eight principles to help improve racial diversity in the sector.

NCVO has published its latest update on what’s going on in Westminster that might impact charities.


NCVO has published “What do the DEXEU Resignations Mean for Charities and Brexit?”

Data protection and campaigning


The Information Commissioner’s Office has published a progress report on investigation into the use of data analytics in political campaigns.


Fundraising Regulator decisions

The Fundraising Regulator has published its decision following an investigation into the Presidents Club Charitable Trust. The FR says “We saw no evidence that the charity intentionally ignored the Code. However, we were disappointed to see that the President’s Club and its trustees had little awareness of the expectations around fundraising, namely those outlined in the Code of Fundraising Practice. We concluded that the charity did not have a process in place to monitor the activities of the third party that organised and staffed the event. This was a breach of the Code.”

The final decision following an investigation into a complaint received about Brain Tumour Research has also been published. The FR says it chose to do this “with the agreement of the charity to provide clarity on some aspects of the investigation which have recently been made public”. The FR also said:

  • “It was alleged that the charity was making false statements on its website while fundraising. We found no evidence that the charity set out to intentionally deceive donors. We found no evidence that the funds raised by the charity were not ultimately going towards its stated charitable objectives. Nor did we find any evidence that the charity claimed donations would be used solely for the purpose claimed.
  • “We found that the charity should have taken greater care to ensure that all messages to potential donors were clear and factually correct regarding how donations are used. We also found that the charity did not address Mr S and Ms T’s complaint appropriately.
  • “The findings of our investigation led to us making a number of recommendations to the charity, including taking greater care that communications to potential donors are clear and factually correct.
  • “Brain Tumour Research fully accepted our findings and recommendations, and we now consider this investigation to be closed.”

Health and social care

Civil Society Media reports the Court of Appeal has overturned a £400m sleep-in shift ruling in favor of Mencap.

Also see first item below under Social finance.

Social finance

The government has announced eighteen small social innovators will receive funding and professional support to tackle three major issues: financial capability, mental health at work and helping young people into employment.

The Public Administrational and Constitutional Affairs Committee has released this report which has found that the government has failed to properly assess the risk to providers in the two unsuccessful programmes in which voluntary sector bodies were subcontractors (Work Programme and Transforming Rehabilitation). The recommendation to government is to pause the roll-out of payment-by-results contracts until it is able to properly understand the risks.


The Public Accounts Committee has published a report into the Ministry of Defence’s sale of its married quarters estate in 1996, describing the deal as “disastrous for taxpayers”, and the Department’s failure to reduce the number of empty properties it holds over the life of the contract as “scandalous”.


See under Communities below.


A new £7 million fund to “support trailblazing approaches to building more integrated communities in England” has been launched. It includes projects that use sport and physical activity to encourage integration. The government has also announced support for a new Cohesion and Integration Network. This will bring together organisations and individuals from across national and local government, business, and voluntary and community groups to share their ideas, knowledge and experience.

Rehabilitation of offenders

NPC has published this report: “Understanding Women’s Pathways Through the Criminal Justice System“.

Elections and campaigning

See under Data protection above.


OSCR published a blogpost on 4 July about the consultation on the new Scottish Governance Code for the Third Sector, published by Scotland’s Third Sector Governance Forum.

Northern Ireland

CCNI has published  the invitation to tender (jointly with the CC and OSCR) for the provision of print, publication, distribution and future updating of the new Charities SORP.


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 July 18, 2018.