Bates Wells Briefing for Charities & Social Enterprises | 16 October

Bates Wells highlights

Charities, Social Enterprise

The Charity Commission has published new “whistleblowing” guidance on reporting wrongdoing in a charity as an employee or volunteer.

BWB have partnered with NCVO to host this year’s annual trustee conference, Good Governance, Great Organisations. See below for more details and to book your place.

At a glance

The Local Government Association has issued a briefing covering the issues for local government associated with a Brexit “no deal” scenario.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has expanded its guidance on exemptions to the GDPR.

The Prime Minister has launched the Government’s first loneliness strategy.

A new £20 million Private Rented Sector Access Fund has been launched to help people facing homelessness into safe and secure homes.

A SORP Update has been issued.

Charity Commission

New guidance on whistleblowing

The Charity Commission has published new guidance on reporting wrongdoing in a charity as an employee or volunteer. The guidance sets out the types of events that should be reported to it, which other authorities should also be contacted, a link to other government whistleblowing guidance, how the process works for reports to the Commission and what the Commission will do with the information. Examples given by the Commission of incidents that could cause serious harm which should be reported to it include:

  • if someone’s health or safety is in danger, for example if a charity does not use its safeguarding policy
  • a criminal offence, for example theft, fraud or financial mismanagement
  • if a charity uses its activities as a platform for extremist views or materials
  • loss of charity funds, for example when a charity loses more than 20% of its income or more than £25,000
  • if the charity does not meet its legal obligations, for example if someone uses a charity for significant personal advantage

The new guidance follows a recent CC report about whistleblowing disclosures made to it in 2017 and 2018 which said that improvements would be made to guidance, internal processes and staff training in this area.

CC47 – Complaints about charities has also been updated to reflect the new guidance. Section 3 previously contained a longer section on whistleblowing (constituting the Commission’s main piece of guidance on it), which was quite technical and summarised the whistleblowing provisions under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998; this has been replaced by a short paragraph signposting the new guidance which is more about the processes required and is written in a more accessible way.

Safer giving

The Commission has issued advice to the public about donating safely to the Indonesia Tsunami Appeal.

Tax and VAT

HMRC’s VAT notice 701/6 on Charity funded equipment for medical and veterinary use has been updated with new examples of qualifying zero-rated goods or services.

See here for an article by BWB’s Bill Lewis about the ten most common VAT traps.


The Local Government Association has issued a briefing covering the issues for local government associated with a Brexit “no deal” scenario. Some key points made are:

  • the need for clarity on the continued employment and residence for non-UK EU citizens running public services;
  • the need for compensation for the additional costs associated with any new tariffs on imports from the EU;
  • the desirability of reform of EU laws constraining local economies (for example, in relation to procurement and state aid)
  • one potential impact of a “no deal” scenario could be the return of large numbers of elderly UK citizens from other parts of the EU.

Before the Budget, NCVO will be holding a free event with UK in a Changing Europe on the potential impact of no-deal, to help organisations who are looking to make plans in the event that either the UK and EU are not able to come to agreement, or parliament votes down a deal.

Also see this recent NCVO webinar which set out why no-deal remains a plausible outcome, given the difficulties of finding an agreement which satisfies all parties.

Data protection


The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has expanded its guidance on exemptions in the ICO: Guide to the GDPR.

Toolkit for sole traders

The ICO has launched a self-assessment checklist that will help sole traders and self-employed individuals to assess their compliance with data protection laws.

ICO fines

Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) has been fined £120,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for failing to ensure that the personal data held on its network was properly secured. On 16 October 2017 a member of the public found a USB memory stick, which had been lost by a HAL employee. The stick, which contained 76 folders and over 1,000 files, was not encrypted or password protected.

The Information Commissioner has also fined London-based marketing company, Boost Finance Ltd (BFL) £90,000 for sending millions of nuisance emails about pre-paid funeral plans.


The Prime Minister has launched the Government’s first loneliness strategy. It includes:

  • Providing funding for “social prescribing” eg to connect patients to a variety of activities, such as cookery classes, walking clubs and art groups
  • partnering with the Royal Mail on a new scheme in Liverpool, New Malden and Whitby which will see postal workers check up on lonely people as part of their usual delivery rounds.
  • Funding of £1.8m to increase the number of community spaces available – the funding will be used to transform underutilised areas, such as creating new community cafes, art spaces or gardens.
  • Embedding thinking about loneliness into a number of government agendas and policies.

The Prime Minister has also announced £2 million in funding for the Zero Suicide Alliance (ZSA) over the next 2 years. The funding will help to reduce suicides across the NHS, with the aim of achieving zero inpatient suicides.

Social finance

Pioneers Post reports on The Global Steering Group for Impact Investment’s (GSG) 4th annual Impact Summit held in New Delhi, India between 8-9 October 2018. Speakers included Al Gore (Nobel laureate and former US Vice-President), Sir Ronald Cohen (GSG’s founder and chair), and Shri Ratan Tata (Chair, Tata Trusts). The event brought together over 700 impact leaders from more than 50 countries to address the $2.5 trillion yearly funding gap that exists in pursuit of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Writing for Third Sector, Seb Elsworth (chief executive of Access), notes the Charity Commission’s guidance published in 2016 which considers trustees’ responsibilities when making investments. According to the Commission, trustees should consider environmental, social and governance factors when making judgments about risk and return on investments. The article goes on to provide trustees with a number of resources which may be used when considering the charity’s investments.

The FCA seeks views on the impact of climate change on financial services

The FCA have published a discussion paper on climate change and green finance, and the impact that climate change is likely to have on the UK’s economy and financial markets, setting out their proposed approach and seeking views to develop their work further. They seek feedback from a wide range of stakeholders, including charities, consumer groups and individuals, by 31 January 2019.

Social impact

New Philanthropy Capital has published:


A new £20 million fund, the Private Rented Sector Access Fund, was launched on World Homeless Day to help those people facing homelessness into safe and secure homes. The funding aims to help up to 9,000 people secure their own home. Under a new duty, prisons, Job centres and NHS Trusts must now refer those at risk of homelessness to councils.

International development

Bond reports last week that the Secretary of State for International Development Penny Mordaunt outlined her vision for UK aid at the Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC), the UK government’s development finance institution. She announced increased spending of official development assistance (ODA) towards private sector investment into developing countries.

Trade associations

See here for an article by BWB’s Lindsay Draffan about how competition law affects trade associations.


The Land Registry’s guidance on CIOs has been updated to reflect the CIO conversion regulations.


The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) is publicising a free speed networking event hosted by ACOSVO on Thursday 15 November in Edinburgh to introduce third sector board representatives and future young trustees. The event will provide a venue for 25 organisations who have made a pledge to recruit a young person (26 and under) to their board, and 25 young people to meet and “speed network”, see here.

OSCR is also promoting two discussion events on 24 and 25 October to be held by the Independent Fundraising Standards & Adjudication Panel for Scotland in collaboration with the Institute of Fundraising, the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations and OSCR, on the proposed changes to the Code of Fundraising Practice, see 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 October 16, 2018.