Bates Wells Briefing for Charities & Social Enterprises | 26 September

Bates Wells highlights

Charities, Social Enterprise

Bates Wells Partner Emma Dowden-Teale has joined the Steering Committee for the production of the

DfID-funded project on Governance and Reporting.

Thank you to those who came to our Annual Tea Party last week. For sector coverage of the panel discussion about serious incident reporting, see the links in today’s Briefing.

At a glance

The Information Commissioner’s Office has issued its first post-GDPR enforcement notice.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency has published updated versions of its Schools forum guidance.

British Asian Trust has announced the world’s largest impact bond.

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland is consulting on its draft Strategic Plan 2019-2022.

Charity Commission

Serious incident reporting panel discussion at BWB Tea Party

Both Civil Society and Third Sector ran stories about the panel discussion at BWB’s tea party last week, see here  and here.

Updated guidance on setting up a charity

There is an updated flowchart on which now signposts the new guidance on checking the alternatives to setting up a charity, please find it here.

Tax and VAT

Charity Tax Group has:

  • Flagged that HMRC is reminding VAT-registered businesses with a taxable turnover above the VAT registration threshold (currently £85,000) that they will be required to keep digital VAT business records and send returns using Making Tax Digital (MTD)-compatible software for VAT periods starting on or after 1 April 2019.
  • Reported that the European Commission has published a notice to stakeholders on the possible VAT consequences of Brexit. The areas covered include the treatment of supplies of goods and services, VAT returns through MOSS, and VAT refunds.


Work is now well underway on the DfID-funded project on Governance and Reporting, in connection with the work of Working Group 4: Complaints and Reporting, which was set up following the DfID Summit on Safeguarding in INGOs in the Spring. This project focuses on the preparation of guidance to the sector on Governance and Reporting in conjunction with the recommendations made following DfID’s Summit last Spring and those set out in Parliament’s recent International Development Committee Report in respect of its inquiry into sexual exploitation in the humanitarian aid sector published in July 2018, and the upcoming DfID Summit scheduled for 18 October.

An initial draft of the guidance is expected to be substantially advanced in the next few weeks. To the extent that your charity would like to contribute to the discussions taking place in connection with the development of this key sector guidance, please contact Kate Sayer as soon as possible to arrange to do so.

As part of BWB’s continued commitment to supporting charities in securing best practice in meeting their safeguarding obligations, Emma Dowden-Teale (Partner, Public and Regulatory) is delighted to have joined the Steering Committee for the production of this crucially important work.

Data Protection

Reporting breaches

On 12 September 2018, the Information Commissioner’s Office’s (ICO) Deputy Commissioner (Operations) made a speech to the CBI Cyber Security: Business Insight Conference assessing the impact of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 over the past three months, summarising action taken by the ICO and outlining key data breach reporting trends. In the first “ready reckoner” of breach reporting under the GDPR, the Deputy Commissioner revealed that, since 25 May 2018, the ICO has received about 500 calls each week to its breach reporting line. Roughly one third are from organisations that decide after discussion with the ICO that the breach does not meet the reporting threshold. Key trends include:

  • Organisations struggle with the 72-hour period defined in Article 33(1) of the GDPR and must remember that it is not working hours.
  • Some reports are incomplete although the ICO has set out clear guidance on what to include. Adequate resources must be assigned to managing the breach.
  • Some controllers are over-reporting and the ICO will discourage this once the new threshold has become more familiar.

ICO enforcement action and fines

It looks like this Enforcement Notice (quietly slipped out in July) was the first ICO enforcement action under the GDPR/Data Protection Act 2018. Find it here. It is against a Canadian entity – so a reminder of the extra-territorial scope of GDPR.

The ICO has issued Equifax Ltd with a £500,000 fine for failing to protect the personal information of up to 15 million UK citizens during a cyber attack in 2017.


Code consultation

On 26th Sept from 3-4pm, NCVO is running a free webinar about the Code consultation. Gerald Oppenheim and Stephen Service from the Fundraising Regulator are taking part. Register here.



On 23 August 2018, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LG&SCO) published a report upholding two complaints against Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC) in relation to unfair changes to school admission arrangements. (reference numbers 17 004 666 and 17 014 121). In 2016, NCC changed its school admissions arrangements, removing the priority in the over-subscription criteria for children outside schools’ catchment areas who had siblings attending a relevant school, over those outside catchment areas who did not. The first complainant, Mrs X, applied for reception class places for September 2016 at a school (School A) for her two children under the new arrangements. Mrs X lived outside the catchment area for school A, but the children had a sibling attending the school. The second complainant, Mr Q, applied for a reception class place at school A for his son. Mr Q also lived outside the catchment area and his son had a sibling attending the school. Under NCC’s new arrangements, all the children were denied places at school A, and Mrs X and Mr Q appealed. The appeals were refused as no relevant grounds applied. Following a challenge by a parent at another school seven months later, the Office of the Schools Adjudicator ruled in January 2017 the new admissions arrangements were unfair. The council then decided to offer second appeals to affected families. At the second appeal, the panel found that the admissions arrangements for School A did not comply with the Department for Education’s School Admissions Code 2014. However, places could not be offered to the children of Mrs X and Mr Q due to school A being full. Mrs X and Mr Q complained to the LG&SCO who found that NCC had unfairly changed the admission arrangements causing injustice and recommended that NCC:

  • Apologise to both families.
  • Pay both families £500 per school year until such time as the eldest sibling left school A or places become available for the younger siblings.
  • Pay each family £500 for distress and time and money spent in approaching the LG&SCO.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency has published updated versions of its Schools forum operational and good practice guide and its Schools forum powers and responsibilities guidance.

Social Finance

Charity Financials has published its latest report which reveals that charity investment assets increased by £8.3bn last year. It notes that the total value of the charity sector’s investment assets was 84 per cent greater than 10 years before. The full report may be downloaded here.

British Asian Trust has announced the world’s largest impact bond – Quality Education India Development Impact Bond (DIB) to improve the quality of learning in primary education across India. The DIB is led by a Steering Committee made up of the British Asian Trust, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, and the UBS Optimus Foundation and Tata Trusts. It aims to help 300,000 children improve their learning and meet increased targets in numeracy and literacy.

Melanie Mills (Social Sector Engagement Director, Big Society Capital (BSC)), provides a short introduction to Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) while celebrating PWC’s report which finds that SITR is the fourth best tax scheme in the EU.

Social Enterprise UK, supported by Nationwide and Co-op Group, have published a report which provides fresh analysis of the size and scale of the social enterprise sector. It finds that the sector employs 2 million people and makes a £60bn contribution to UK GDP. The report also calls on government to support this sector of growing importance with a comprehensive package of measures including, for example, amending company law so businesses have to give more regard to their social and environmental responsibilities.

Civil Society Media has published this article “Should the Church Commissioners divest from Amazon?


See this Employee Ownership Association blog about one of the UK’s leading retirement villages, which is set to become employee-owned.


DEFRA has announced the launch of a £3m support scheme to reduce air pollution from ammonia emissions caused by farming. Click here for more details.

Northern Ireland

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland (CCNI) has published its draft Strategic Plan 2019-2022 and is running a consultation until 12 November for stakeholders to comments on the plan.

CCNI has announced that its annual public meeting will be held on Monday 15 October 2018, from 9.10am to noon, in Newtownabbey. The NI charity regulator says that the meeting will provide an opportunity to find out more about its work, as well as to ask questions and, as part of a round table discussion, share your views on the Commission’s next three-year strategic plan. More details here.



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 September 26, 2018.