Bates Wells Briefing for Charities & Social Enterprises | 17 September

Bates Wells highlights

Charity Commission CEO Helen Stephenson has posted a blog to remind charities of their responsibilities around political activity.  

At a glance

Fees for Disclosure and Barring Service checks are reducing with effect from 1 October 2019. 

The government is providing £500,000 for bursaries to undertake youth work qualifications. 

The Advertising Standards Authority has published “Four top tips for charity advertising”.

Charity Commission

Blogpost: Charities and Political Campaigning

With the growing expectation of a general election before the end of this year, commission CEO Helen Stephenson has posted a blog to remind charities of their responsibilities around political activity.

Inquiry Report

Name of organisationBrief descriptionAnything unusual eg unusual facts or novel/rare use of Commission’s powers
Team Syria (unregistered organisation)Report and Commission press releaseThe Charity Commission has disqualified an individual from acting as a trustee or holding a senior management position in a charity for a period of 7 years, after he set up a website which collected charitable funds to help people in Syria, and was then found to have mismanaged the funds.
Team Syria was never registered as a charity.
The trustee was subject to a criminal investigation of which he was acquitted.
This is an example of the commission opening an inquiry into an unregistered organisation on the basis that the funds it raised were charitable and the commission therefore had jurisdiction over those funds.
The commission directed the police not to part with the charitable funds seized from the trustee. The commission has since distributed these funds to two registered charities operating in Syria.


The commission has issued new lists of its available guidance, including this list of guidance for setting up and running a charity, this list of “CC” publications, and this list of guidance for managing your charity.

It has also revised its homepage for online services and reissued guidance on updating your charity’s details and using the updating service for the first time.

The commission has revised its guidance on preparing an annual return by adding a link to the above guidance on using the ‘update charity details’ service for the first time. The page has also been rewritten to make it shorter and easier to use. The commission has issued separate specific guidance for charities preparing an annual return for the first time since 12 November 2018.


The commission has issued a press release announcing that the Charities SORP-making body has set out plans to change the way the Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP) is developed so that it better meets the needs of users of charity reports and accounts, following a governance review. The review was led by Professor Gareth Morgan and its findings and recommendations are available on the SORP website. The charity regulators are intending to put a  new process for developing the SORP in place from 2020. The changes being made will include: reforms to the SORP committee to ensure a stronger culture of constructive challenge, better stability, and better representation of small charities and funders; the introduction of a new engagement process with seven stakeholder groups to be set up to work in partnership with the SORP committee.

Annual Public Meeting

The commission has made some more tickets available for its annual public meeting on 3 October in Bristol.

Tax and VAT

Government response to Charity Tax Review

In a written response given in the House of Commons on 9 September 2019, Simon Clarke MP said that the government had no plans to undertake a formal comprehensive review of charity taxation and reliefs. He also said that the government had not assessed the impact on charities of the proposals made in the Charity Tax Commission’s recent report to introduce a universal Gift Aid declaration database.

Similarly, in a written response given in the Commons on 2 September 2019, Mr Clarke said that while the UK remained an EU member, it would not be possible to zero rate or exempt the costs for writing wills that include a charitable donation from VAT. There might be more flexibility in the future but removing VAT on the cost of writing wills “would need to be measured carefully and balanced against wider policy, economic and fiscal considerations”.

Also see below under Fundraising, Gift Aid and Social Finance.



NCVO has:

Data protection   

The ICO has published dedicated guidance to help small and medium sized organisations prepare for the possibility that the UK leaves the European Union with no deal.


Fees for Disclosure and Barring Service checks are reducing with effect from 1 October 2019.  The key changes are as follows:

Type of DBS checkCurrent feeFee from 1 October 2019
Basic DBS check£25.00£23.00
Standard DBS check£26.00£23.00
Enhanced DBS check£44.00£40.00

The fee for the Update Service will remain the same, at £13 per year.


Instagram donation stickers

IOF has signposted this article explaining Instagram’s new donation stickers. 


See under Tax and VAT above – second para under Government response to Charity Tax Review.

Also see under Advertising below. 


This is an interesting FT article “How time-limited trusts are focusing funds on specific causes”.

Philanthropy Impact has published this article on Nat Sloane which describes him as “arguably one of the most influential individuals in philanthropy in this country”.



The Prime Minister has pledged to create thousands more good school places as he unveils a new drive for the next wave of free schools.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published a letter sent by Andrew Tyrie, CMA Chair, to the Secretary of State for Education outlining concerns about the impact of school uniform policies on the cost of uniform. The Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has responded to the CMA’s letter, commenting that the existing best practice guidance advises schools that, in setting their school uniform policy, they should give high priority to cost considerations and achieving value for money for parents. The guidance states that uniform items should be easily available for parents to purchase and schools should keep compulsory branded items to a minimum. Further, schools should avoid single-supplier contracts, but where schools do choose to enter into such contracts, they should ensure these are subject to a regular competitive tendering process to ensure value for parents.  The Education Secretary states that the government will put the school uniform guidance on a statutory footing when a suitable opportunity arises.

Youth work qualifications

The government is providing £500,000 for bursaries for 400 students to undertake youth work qualifications. And charities, benevolent and philanthropic organisations from across England can now bid to become the delivery partner of the Youth Worker Bursary Fund.

Higher education

The Education Secretary has backed a review which will consider whether students should apply to university after getting their A level results.


The Government is investing over £130 million in new tech to tackle cancer and debilitating illnesses like dementia and Parkinson’s.

Recently ten NHS charities joined forces to develop a shared measurement framework to better understand the work they do. This report, conducted by NPC on behalf of Imperial Health Charity, highlights the potential of shared measurement in the NHS charity sector.

Social finance

Short ’n’ Sweet: 12 September 2019. Pioneers Post provides a short round-up of social enterprise and impact investing news (and also notes that Bates Wells has recently declared a climate emergency).

Unlocking the Potential of Frontier Finance is a new research report from the Global Impact Investing Network, providing an overview of the frontier finance investment landscape, case studies and recommendations for building this market and overcoming common challenges.

The allowance under the Social Investment Tax Relief scheme for Capital Gains Tax hold-over relief, on gains re-invested into qualifying investments, has been extended so that it will continue to be available until April 2021 (for detail see the amending regulations, coming into force on 4 Nov 2019).

The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust announces that it has been recognised as a global leader in responsible investment by the PRI Association, an internationally recognised proponent of responsible investment backed by the UN (more on the PRI Leaders’ Group 2019).

Hype vs reality: What India taught me about investing for impact. Harvey Koh, Managing Director at FSG, writes for the Pioneers Post/EVPA Impact Papers series, asking whether microfinancing is an impact investing success story and proposing ways to improve investing for impact in other sectors, taking learnings from India’s financial inclusion boom.

Faith based organisations

Communities Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP has pledged £100,000 to tackle online antisemitism. 


The Advertising Standards Authority has published “Four top tips for charity advertising” – the tips are drawn from recent complaints about charity advertisements. 

Also see here for details of a recent case where Bates Wells acted for the Advertising Standards Authority, successfully defending a challenge to an ASA ruling.  

Company law

The Regulator of Community Interest Companies (CICs), Ceri Witchard, recently held a Q&A podcast on how the new online account filing process will benefit CIC customers.


The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator is also publicising the plans to change the SORP-making process.

Northern Ireland

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland is also publicising the plans to change the SORP-making process.

Disclaimer – The information contained in this update is not intended to be a comprehensive update – it is our selection of the website announcements made in the week up 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 17, 2019.