Bates Wells Briefing for Charities & Social Enterprises | 18 December

Bates Wells highlights

Charities, Social Enterprise

In the second of three video interviews with Thomson Reuters, Bates Wells’ Senior Associate Mindy Jhittay answers common questions that charities are asking her about transgender inclusion. See today’s briefing for more details.  

This is our last Bates Wells Briefing for 2019. The next one will be sent out the week beginning Monday 6th January. Thanks for reading this year and have a great festive season!

At a glance

The Information Commissioner’s Office has published detailed draft guidance on the right of access (known as subject access) under the General Data Protection Regulation.

17 NHS foundation trusts have been unsuccessful in a legal case arguing they are entitled to pay reduced business rates because they are charities. 

Civil Society Media reports charities participating in multi-employer defined benefit pension plans will have to include figures for liabilities in their annual accounts.

Coops UK has updated its governance code for co-operatives.  

Charity Commission

Baroness Stowell speech

The commission has published the transcript of a speech made on 10 December by Baroness Stowell to women charity Chairs and CEOs. As in previous speeches, Baroness Stowell focuses on the public’s expectations of charities.

New inquiries

The commission has announced that it has opened an inquiry into the Christian charity SPAC Nation (1152988). The charity has been subject to a regulatory compliance case since April 2018 to examine safeguarding and financial concerns about the charity. This has now escalated to a statutory inquiry and the commission says that an immediate concern is that substantial amounts of charity money are held in cash. The commission has issued an order under Section 84 of the Charities Act, requiring the charity to bank its money. The commission says it is also concerned about the apparent lack of clarity between the personal, business and charity roles of leaders within the charity. There have been recent reports in the national media where individuals have alleged they had been encouraged to give money to the charity and/or individuals connected to the charity by taking on personal debt.

The commission has also announced that it opened an inquiry into Jamia Alfurqan Limited (1157121) in February this year. This followed notification from West Midlands Police of serious concerns involving the charity. The commission says it is liaising closely with the police and has also exercised its power to prohibit trustees from making certain transactions without prior consent from the commission. After the inquiry was opened, the trustees of the charity resigned and a new board of trustees has been appointed.

Regulatory alert – fraud

The commission has issued a regulatory alert warning charities that fraudsters are impersonating staff members of charities requesting that employees’ bank details are changed.

Charities – public benefit

See under Health below.

Business rates

See below under Election and Health.  


Charity Tax Group has published this summary of the Conservative Party’s finance and tax commitments.  They include:

  • reducing business rates via a “fundamental review of the system”. As a first step, they will reduce business rates for retail businesses, as well as extending the discount to grassroots music venues, small cinemas and pubs
  • maintaining support for creative sector tax reliefs and free entry to the UK’s national museums
  • abolishing employers’ National Insurance Contributions for under-21s and apprentices under 25.


See under Transgender issues for charities below.

Data protection

Subject access requests

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published detailed draft guidance on the right of access (known as subject access) under the General Data Protection Regulation. It covers topics such as finding and retrieving the relevant information, how to supply the information, manifestly unfounded requests, claiming exemptions and dealing with information about third parties. The consultation on the draft guidance is open until 12 February 2020.

Transgender issues for charities

In the second of three video interviews with Thomson Reuters, Bates Wells’ Senior Associate Mindy Jhittay answers common questions that charities are asking her about transgender inclusion.

  • Should transgender children be allowed to go on girl-only camping trips?
  • Do charities have to tell parents of the other children that there’s a transgender child present?
  • What should charities take into account when considering safeguarding in this kind of situation?

Her video provides concise, informative guidance on the rights of transgender people and the obligations of charities. You can access it here.

Health and social care

17 NHS foundation trusts have been unsuccessful in a legal case arguing they are entitled to pay reduced business rates because they are charities. The trusts accepted that they occupy properties (mostly hospitals) on which they are liable to pay non-domestic rates to their local rating authorities. But they sought to rely on Sections 45(5) and (6) of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 which provide that where: (1) the ratepayer is a charity; and (2) the relevant property is wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes (whether of that charity or of that and other charities), the ratepayer is only liable for 1/5 of the sum otherwise due. The judge concluded that a foundation trust is not established for charitable purposes only and therefore a foundation trust is not a charity for the purposes of section 43(6) of the 1988 Act. The judgment includes detailed analysis of public benefit which may be relevant for charity registrations. Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust –v- Derby City Council Chancery Division [2019] EWHC 3436 (Ch) 12 Dec 2019.

Social finance

Major universities unite to align investments with values – launching responsible investment network. Big Society Capital reports that the Universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, and St Anne’s College, Oxford have formed the Responsible Investment Network – Universities (RINU). This press release describes the universities, representing around £5.4 billion, as united in their ambitions to create positive change through their investment practices, and intending to share ideas on topics such as investment stewardship, engaging with asset managers, educating students and staff, and social impact investment.

The £500,000 Boost It fund, for social enterprises based in Scotland and working on environmental issues, is open for applications. Boost It will provide ‘repayable grants’ of between £30,000 and £50,000 to young social enterprises responding to the climate emergency and other environmental issues. Pioneers Post comments on the launch here.

The National Philanthropic Trust UK published its fourth annual UK Donor-Advised Fund Report. The 2019 report examines data from 2014 to 2018 from UK charities that offer donor-advised funds.

Seb Elsworth: A positive state in the social enterprise sector – for now. Seb Elsworth comments on the results of Social Enterprise UK’s biennial State of Social Enterprise survey and highlights how if the data from the survey paints a positive picture about the current availability and take-up of repayable finance for social enterprises, then the next challenge is to ensure that the supply of finance continues to meet the needs of the sector.

For a comparative look at the impact of social banking in Central and Eastern Europe, Erste Group has produced its second impact assessment, Erste Group Social Banking Impact Report 2019, based on methodology developed in cooperation with the Vienna University of Economics and Business. EVPA provides commentary on the report here.

Faith based organisations

Local Government Lawyer reports the Supreme Court is to hear an appeal over arrangements by a Jewish housing association to allocate properties only to members of its religious community. The appeal relates to the Agudas Israel Housing Association and is a continuation of the case Z & Aanor, R (On the Application Of) v London Borough of Hackney & Anor [2019] EWCA Civ.


See under Accounts below.


See under Accounts below.


Charity Governance Code consultation

Bates Wells’ Cecile Gillard has written an article for the Chartered Governance Institute about the upcoming refresh to the Charity Governance Code: “Refining Charity Governance”.

New Co-operatives Corporate Governance Code

Coops UK has updated its governance code for co-operatives. For the first time, the code is applicable to all types and sizes of co-ops – and similar to the Charity Governance Code for charities it offers a set of principles that all co-ops can reflect upon and use to encourage and enable good governance practice – operating on a comply or explain basis.  Alongside the code there is a range of appendices, covering roles and responsibilities for various key roles including a co-op secretary, co-op directors and co-op chairs; terms of reference for a range of committees; codes of conduct for directors; model induction checklists; and whistleblowing.


Civil Society Media reports charities participating in multi-employer defined benefit pension plans will have to include figures for liabilities in their annual accounts, according to new guidance from the regulators.  The new approach is explained in Information Sheet Four, which was recently published by the charity regulators behind the Statement Of Recommended Practice (SORP). The guidance takes effect for accounting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2020 and applies in the UK and Republic of Ireland to charities preparing accounts in accordance with the Financial Reporting Standard.

The Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB) has launched a consultation on how its framework for reporting environmental and climate change information can be used and adapted to help advance disclosure of nature-related financial information by organisations globally. The aim of the consultation is to drive the uptake of such disclosure, as well as explore the role of the CDSB framework. The consultation welcomes responses until 28 February 2020.


OSCR has published a webinar on its website providing an overview of receipts and payments accounts.

OSCR’s December edition of its newsletter has been published, summarising recent news stories.

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 December 18, 2019.