Bates Wells Briefing for Charities & Social Enterprises | 10 September

Bates Wells have formally recognised the climate emergency and in doing so, we have committed to decrease our carbon emissions significantly and to reach net zero carbon in 2019. To find out more about our climate emergency declaration, click here.

On 4th November we are partnering with the NCVO to put on the NCVO/Bates Wells Trustee Conference 2019. The conference will explore what good governance looks like for modern charities and will give you practical tips and guidance to help you develop in your role as a trustee and support your organisations governance. To find out more and book your place, click here.

At a glance

NCVO has commented on last week’s Spending Round. 

The Department of Education has launched a new review to improve support for children with additional needs.  

The Scottish government has announced £1 million to support grassroots social enterprises.

Charity Commission

New inquiry

The commission has announced that it has opened a new class inquiry into seven charities linked by two common trustees and common registered contact details. The commission says that it has serious concerns over potential misconduct and/or mismanagement at the charities due to a number of discrepancies when reviewing the accounts of the charities. These included the accounts for one charity showing identical financial information to three of the other charities raising a question as to whether the trustees have knowingly acted against their legal duty by providing false and misleading information to the commission.

Inquiry reports

Name of charityBrief descriptionAnything unusual eg unusual facts or novel/rare use of Commission’s powers
Essex Islamic Academy (also known as Ripple Road Mosque) (1131755)See also commission press release.An employee of the charity’s madrassah was arrested and charged with terrorism offences, this led to the filing of a serious incident report to the commission and ultimately to the opening of the statutory inquiry.The inquiry report calls this “the worst case the commission has seen with children, as young as 11, exposed to harm through attempted radicalisation and terrorist material”. The classroom assistant, who was also found to have been teaching some of the classes, showed children extremely violent propaganda videos produced by a proscribed terrorist organisation.The five former trustees were removed and disqualified for 10 years (two of them will be disqualified for life as a result of terrorism convictions).
Birmingham Diocesan Trust (234216)See also commission press release.The inquiry was opened because the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) had selected the charity as a case study and in  preparation for that, the charity had commissioned an audit by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), which highlighted serious concerns with the charity’s safeguarding policies, procedures and governance. The inquiry concluded that there had been inadequate safeguarding governance and oversight by the trustees.The commission has issued an order directing the trustees to complete the remaining actions necessary to address ongoing safeguarding concerns. These actions relate to quality assurance, organisational and structural change, cultural change and DBS checks. 


The Spending Round announced last week included: 

  • Social care and health. £1 billion will be allocated for adult and children’s social care and the government has pledged to consult on a 2% adult social care precept that will enable councils to access a further £0.5 billion. The government will also provide additional funding to upgrade outdated facilities and equipment in 20 hospitals, sharing an £854 million pot of new funding. A further £1 billion for NHS capital spending will be provided in 2019-20 to allow existing upgrades to proceed and to tackle urgent infrastructure projects.
  • Education. Funding for schools will increase to £7.1 billion by 2022-23 (with a schools’ budget increase before that of £2.6 billion in 2020-21 and £4.8 billion in 2021-22). In 2020-21, per pupil funding for all schools will rise in line with inflation; the minimum per pupil amount will be £3,750 for primary schools and £5,000 for secondary schools. The additional schools funding includes over £700 million more in 2020-21, compared to this year’s funding levels, to support children and young people with special educational needs. Further education will receive £400 million.
  • International development – see this briefing from BOND. 

See here for NCVO’s commentary on the Spending Round.  


Charity General

More than 80 charities from across the UK have outlined their concerns about the possible consequences of a no-deal Brexit in a letter to Boris Johnson. ‘Civil society faces the same Brexit-related impacts and uncertainties as business, and yet we have not had adequate support, resources and engagement from the government. We urge you to better engage with civil society, including across the devolved nations, throughout the next stages of the Brexit process’. Some of the charities within the coalition include NUS UK, Locality and the 3million.

Civil Society Media have published an article which details some of the possible Brexit scenarios particularly in relation to charities and financing. The full article includes some useful diagrams and flowcharts on some predictions for Brexit and how it will affect the public sector.

The government has announced that a £3m grant will be made available for charities and other voluntary organisations to assist EU-residing UK nationals with residency applications following Brexit. With over 1 million UK nationals currently living in EU and EFTA countries, the government is specifically looking to bolster support for those who may find it more difficult to complete all the paperwork, such as pensioners, people with disabilities, those living in remote areas or with mobility difficulties, as well as those needing assistance with translation and interpretation.

Health and Social Care

In a letter to the prime minister, the heads of 17 royal colleges and health charities across the UK say clinicians are “unable to reassure patients” their health and care will not be affected. The letter calls for the Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock to be put on the EU exit strategy committee chaired by Michael Gove, who is in charge of no-deal planning.

International development

The International Development Secretary, Alok Sharma, has written to DFID’s commercial suppliers to update them on the Government’s planning for Brexit.


Civil Society have released an article on the economic outlook concerning defined benefit schemes for both charities and their staff. The article details that due to Brexit uncertainty and the increased geopolitical tensions the yields in pension schemes will remain depressed.

Data Protection

The University College London (UCL) European Institute has raised serious concerns over the no-deal Brexit arrangements for personal data flows between the EU and the UK, particularly regarding the economic sphere. The Institute highlights that 75% of the UK’s international data flows are with the EU, and much UK economic activity is dependent on these flows. Therefore, the Institute warns of significant disruption to EU-UK personal data flows in the event of a no-deal Brexit.


The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has announced a £10m business readiness fund for business organisations and trade associations with the aim of supporting their preparations for Brexit. BEIS aims to help UK businesses understand what steps need to be taken before 31 October 2019 and events, training and advice will be open for member and non-members so that all business sizes can benefit. Applications for grants will be accepted until 30 September 2019 and funds will need to be used on activities that are completed before the Brexit deadline of 31 October 2019.


HMRC has begun issuing Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) numbers which will be needed in order to keep trading with customers and suppliers in the EU after the UK has left the EU. If businesses do not have an EORI number post-Brexit, they will be unable to continue to trade with EU Member States. The Charity Tax group have also published an article relating to this.


See under Northern Ireland below.  


See under General above.

The Department of Education has launched a new review to improve support for children with additional needs.   

Health and social care

See under General above.

Social finance

Impact Finance Bulletin: retail impact investing platform shuts due to low uptake. Pioneers Post round-up of impact finance news in the UK and further afield, including: Bridges Fund Management raised £35m for social outcome contracts; new £15m fund for social enterprises opened by the Architectural Heritage Fund; and Big Issue Invest committing £227k to support people affected by mental health problems to enter the workplace.

Charities and community groups are invited to apply for a share of £3m to bring their dream project to life through Dream Fund 2020. Open to application until 15 October 2019.

The Scottish government has announced £1 million to support grassroots social enterprises. In addition, a Rural Social Enterprise Hub will be created to build on knowledge from European partners and establish a digital network for rural social enterprises to share experiences.

Culture and creative

Arts Council England has invested £7.1 million into 18 leadership development programmes aimed at established and emerging leaders from museums, libraries and arts organisations, including charities.

International development

See under General above.

Small UK-based development charities delivering international development projects have an opportunity to apply to DFID’s Small Charities Challenge Fund (SCCF). Charities can access grants of up to £50,000 to help respond to global challenges such as improving girls’ education, tackling climate change, and promoting access to healthcare in the developing world.  The first review date for applications is 28th November 2019. To apply, and for more information, go to


As you have probably seen, in July the government began a consultation on sexual harassment in the workplace. Broadly, the consultation seeks views on whether protection against harassment should be explicitly extended to volunteers and interns.  NCVO has written this blog about the consultation which closes on 2nd October. 


The Law Commission has published a report on the electronic execution of documents which sets out the high-level conclusions of the Law Commission as to the law regarding the validity of electronic signatures. This includes:

  • An electronic signature is capable in law of being used to execute a document (including a deed) provided that the person signing the document intends to authenticate the document and any execution formalities are satisfied.
  • The Law Commission’s view is that the requirement under the current law that a deed must be signed “in the presence of a witness” requires the physical presence of that witness. This is the case even where both the person executing the deed and the witness are executing or attesting the document are using an electronic signature.

The Law Commission recommends an industry working group be established to consider practical issues relating to the electronic execution of documents. The working group should, among other things, consider potential solutions to the obstacles to video witnessing of electronic signatures on deeds and attestation and legislative reform to be considered to allow for video witnessing. It also recommends a future review of the law of deeds.

Northern Ireland

According to NICVA, the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland (CCNI) is currently not registering charitable organisations due to a High Court ruling which was handed down on 16th May. The High Court ruled that Commission staff do not have the explicit delegated authority to make decisions on behalf of the Commission.

Two new commissioners have been appointed to the board of CCNI.

The Fundraising Regulator has strengthened its presence in Northern Ireland by contracting a dedicated Northern Ireland Manager. See here for more details.

Disclaimer – The information contained in this update is not intended to be a comprehensive update – it is our selection of the website announcements which we think will be of interest to charities and social enterprises. The content is necessarily of a general nature – specific advice should always be sought for specific situations.

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 10, 2019.