We have all now had the chance to reflect on last year’s safeguarding developments and to develop a clearer understanding of how charities can and should address the challenges involved in safeguarding and people protection. But what are we still grappling with? We are hosting an event with NCVO to discuss this further.
At a glance
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has announced a new investigation into child protection in religious organisations and settings.
Big Society Capital has launched Local Access, a new social investment programme.
The commission has recently published the following four inquiry reports:
Syria Aid – This was a company limited by guarantee registered at Companies House, which met the criteria for registration as a charity but had not registered. The commission tried unsuccessfully to engage with the company so used its information gathering powers to obtain further information, including bank statements and eventually opened an inquiry. The inquiry found that the trustee had failed to provide any financial accounts, that no financial controls were in place; charitable funds were mixed in with personal bank accounts and no receipts or records of income or spending were kept. The commission froze the bank accounts holding charitable funds and disqualified the trustee from serving as a charity trustee and from acting in a senior management function within a charity for a period of ten years.
Fazal Ellahi Charitable Trust – The Commission opened a statutory inquiry into the charity which ran a mosque, following serious concerns including the conviction of the Imam for six counts of encouragement of terrorism and two counts of encouraging support for a proscribed organisation. The commission took the protective measure of freezing over £160,000 in the charity’s bank account. Both of the charity’s trustees were removed from their positions, and are now disqualified from acting as a trustee or holding a senior management position in any charity in England and Wales.
Action Aid for Animals – The commission has had a number of compliance cases with this charity in recent years, with an inquiry eventually being opened in July 2016. The inquiry found evidence of serious mismanagement in the financial management and governance at the charity including a significant amount of charitable funds which were unaccounted for, a high turnover of trustees, no dedicated role for managing the finances or administration and a persistent failure to file accounts. One of the trustees had also established a separate non-charitable organisation called Ticket to Freedom and that trustee used the charity’s name, logo and registered number to raise funds for Ticket to Freedom. Funds intended for the charity were diverted to this organisation and therefore into the trustee’ sole control. The trustee was removed as a trustee of the charity on 27 March 2018 and, as a result, is disqualified from acting as a trustee of this and any other charity. The charity’s remaining trustees have decided to continue operating the charity.
Chabad Lubavitch UK – This charity was a persistent “double-defaulter” which had failed to fail its annual accounting information for several consecutive years. The commission’s inquiry concluded that there was mismanagement in the administration of the charity due to this repeated failure to file accounting information and also because the co-ordination of the submission of financial information from branches to the centre
During the course of the inquiry, the Commission used its powers under s84 of the Charities Act 2011 to obtain information and copy documents and has ensured that it has complied with its legal obligations to submit annual accounting information.
The commission has updated its guidance on protecting charities from fraud and cybercrime to include a new section about the cyber security toolkit for boards.
It has also issued a new alert for charities on cybercrime and how to report it to the commission.
Safer giving during Ramadan
The commission and the fundraising regulator have jointly launched a safer giving campaign with reference to giving during Ramadan.
The Investment Association has published an updated version of its guide on charity authorised investment funds (CAIFs). The guide has been expanded to include notes on completing the Charity Commission application form.
New Philanthropy Capital has started a blog setting out the challenges the charity sector will face post-Brexit and how the sector can ‘take back control’ of its destiny.
Brexit Civil Society Alliance has published a short article on how civil society organisations across the four nations are coping during the Brexit process.
Buzzfeed has reported on findings that Education Secretary Damian Hinds is proposing to withdraw home fee status and financial support from EU students starting courses in the 2021-22 academic year, whether Britain leaves the union with a deal or without one. The Financial Times has released an opinion piece on these reported plans and proposes that the UK should consider a deal with reciprocal access for EU students to university education after the EU exit.
The Financial Times has released an article stating that Theresa May is facing a cabinet row over plans to charge EU nationals the same rates as other international students to study at English universities, in a move that critics claim undermines Britain’s competitiveness.
Health and Social Care
The NHS Confederation has published their most recent Brexit Bulletin, including an update of the Parliamentary timetable and what it means for the NHS.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has announced a new investigation into child protection in religious organisations and settings. For detail and comment, see this briefing by Bates Wells’ Solicitor Joanna Howard.
Last week Bond’s cross-sector safeguarding group published a new guide for charities on good governance for safeguarding. It is available here. The guide reflects current guidance, in particular the various guidance and expectations disseminated by the Charity Commission and DfID in 2018. While the guide focuses on the oversight and governance role of UK NGOs’ boards of trustees, it is of benefit to all charities. Bates Wells’ Partner Emma Dowden-Teale was on the steering committee of the working group during the guide’s development and contributed throughout all stages of the guide’s production. Bates Wells’ Solicitor Joanna Howard assisted in the final stages of the guide’s production. See here for a Bates Wells Briefing with more background.
New data protection and journalism code of practice
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued a call for views on a data protection and journalism code of practice (the code). The ICO’s focus is on data protection issues arising from the use of personal information in journalism, and it aims to provide journalists and media organisations with a practical toolkit to enable them to comply with their data protection obligations. The ICO will work with other regulatory bodies which police standards in the industry, IPSO, IMPRESS and Ofcom, to ensure the code fits within the wider framework. The call for views is the first stage in the consultation process. The deadline for submitting responses is 27 May 2019 and responses should be submitted here. The ICO has produced detailed guidance on data protection and journalism under the Data Protection Act 1998, which it intends to use as a framework to inform the new code, taking account of the new legislation and developments in case law and in journalism generally.
ICO penalty notice for failure to pay annual fee
The paint company Farrow and Ball has been unsuccessful in an appeal against a £4,000 penalty notice issued by the Information Commissioner for failure to pay the annual data protection fee. F&B appealed on the basis that its default was an innocent mistake. The IC’s reminder was sent while the relevant F&B individual was on holiday, the correspondence was not identified as important internally and F&B paid the fee promptly once the default was discovered. The appeal Tribunal concluded that F&B had not advanced a reasonable excuse for non-compliance. Farrow & Ball Limited v The Information Commissioner (Dismissed)  UKFTT 2018_0269 (GRC) (29 April 2019)
IOF has published this blog “Remember a Charity’s new strategy: Three key steps for growing legacy giving”. It includes some useful stats about legacy giving.
The IOF has published a two-part series about “How fundraisers use, and misuse, emotion”.
The government has announced a £10 million scheme to help teachers crack down on bad behaviour in the classroom.
The Education Secretary Damian Hinds has announced a new call for evidence on high needs funding and confirmed plans to remove floor and coasting standards in favour of a single trigger for school support.
The recently published “Timpson Review” makes 30 recommendations to ensure school exclusions are used appropriately.
Following growing pressure from sixth form colleges and their representative body, the Sixth Form College Association (SFCA), it has been reported that the Government may be about to announce its intention to reopen the option of academisation.
Health and social care
NCVO has published this update on how healthcare organisations can influence and shape health service transformation. It includes an option to sign up for email bulletins and invitations to events.
See under Scotland below.
Big Society Capital, together with Access, launches new social investment programme Local Access. The new programme offers grant and repayable investment capital worth at least £33m, across five places in England, aiming to support the growth of the social economy in these places.
The Communities Minister has confirmed over £25 million new funding to help vulnerable rough sleepers.
See under Safeguarding above.
Rory Stewart OBE MP is the new secretary of state for international development.
NCVO have published a blog on the European Elections 2019 and Charity Campaigning.
The Scottish Government has published a “stakeholder toolkit”. It is designed for all public, third sector and charitable organisations who are involved in the delivery of, or providing advice on the new social security benefits which are being devolved to the Scottish Government. The toolkit provides resources and information to help organisations communicate the changes happening in social security.
The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland (CCNI) has published a list of organisations which it anticipates will be called forward to apply for charitable registration in NI the next six months (between April 2019 and September 2019).
CCNI has removed five charities from the NI register of charities as they are believed to be no longer in operation.
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 May 8, 2019.