Bates Wells Briefing for Charities & Social Enterprises | 4 March

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Charities, Social Enterprise

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Stephen Lloyd Awards

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At a glance

The Charity Commission has published a review of complaints and reports about charities that fall below the threshold for regulatory action, to help it, and charities, learn from the matters raised by the public.

The Fundraising Regulator has also published its complaints report for 2018/19.

The Government has published more information about the off-payroll working rules (IR35).

The ICO has published guidance for organisations wanting to develop GDPR Codes of Conduct or Certification schemes

The Security Minister has announced plans to introduce a law which will require owners and operators of public spaces and venues to put in place measures to keep the public safe from a terrorist attack. 

Charity Commission

Complaints report

The commission has published a review of complaints and reports about charities that fall below the threshold for regulatory action, to help it, and charities, learn from the matters raised by the public. The review is part of the commission’s commitment, set out in its 2018-2023 strategy, to ensure no complaint is ignored. The commission says it has carried out in-depth reviews of over 200 of the 600 complaints and serious incident reports received between April and June 2019 which fell below the threshold for direct regulatory action. The report contains anonymised examples of some of the complaints it received, including highlighting that several complaints showed poor decision making and unmanaged conflicts of interest, an example about a recreational charity’s plan to sell part of its land and concerns about a charity’s accounts. Today’s report is the first thematic review of complaints the Commission has conducted under its new strategy; the regulator says it will undertake future reviews that may explore other themes and issues. See also commission press release.

Tax and VAT

IR35- changes to paying independent contractors

Charity Tax Group reports the Government has published its response to its review of changes to the off-payroll working rules. The Government has confirmed its intention to proceed with the reforms which already apply to the public sector, coming into effect on 6 April 2020. Announcements include:

  • businesses will not have to pay penalties for inaccuracies in the first year, except in cases of deliberate non-compliance
  • HMRC will increase its awareness-raising efforts, including webinars and guides, to support understanding of the rules
  • HMRC has published a “communications pack” on the reforms
  • the Government will introduce a legal obligation on organisations to respond to requests from agencies or workers about the organisation’s size – the significance being that small companies are exempt
  • the Government will also update legislation to address concerns raised over the rules as they apply to off-shore companies

HMRC will commission external research into the impacts of the reform six months after implementation, including on how status determinations are being made.

Click here to listen to our Webinar, where Paul JenningsRachel Mathieson and Shadia El Dardiry discuss issues around IR35 and the proposed legislative changes. What do we mean by “exercising reasonable care”? What are the risks associated with using umbrella companies? What happens if businesses don’t have everything in place by 6 April 2020? What steps should different parties be taking? Also taking part in the webinar are tax specialists Marianne Tutin and Colm Kelly of Devereux Chambers.

Business rates

Local Government Lawyer reports the charity Lincolnshire Agricultural Society is challenging a decision by West Lindsey District Council that the charity is not entitled to 80% rates relief. The Society operates from the Lincolnshire Showground which hosts a number of events including the Lincolnshire Show. There is no explanation of the grounds on which the District Council is arguing the usual rates relief for charities does not apply.  


Update on UK shared prosperity fund

Along with other sector partners, NCVO has written to Simon Clarke, the new minister with responsibility for devolution and levelling up, asking him to make the UKSPF a key priority to help avoid gaps in funding. NCVO hopes that more detail may emerge in next month’s budget – especially as this Conservative party webpage suggests the UKSPF will be introduced “from April 2021”. 


The new International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan has said the data sharing scheme for the international development sector, introduced in January 2019, was working, but more UK aid agencies needed to join up to make it even more effective.  At present there are 15 members, but the ambition is to have 200 charities signed up by the end of 2020. Figures released last week for 2019 show that at least 36 people were rejected for jobs because the scheme revealed negative or absent misconduct data.

Also see below under Health.

Data protection

The ICO has published guidance for organisations wanting to develop GDPR Codes of Conduct or Certification schemes. Organisations can submit their proposals for GDPR Codes of Conduct or Certification scheme criteria to the ICO for approval.


Fundraising Regulator’s complaints report

The Fundraising Regulator’s complaints report for 2018/19 reveals that public complaints about door-to-door charity fundraising have decreased by nearly 22%. However, the most complained about fundraising practice reported by the 58 charities in the sample was addressed direct mail which generated 5,619 complaints, an increase of nearly 20% on the figure reported in 2017/18.

Donations – legal and ethical issues

The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) have released their latest Giving Thought podcast. CAF chat to John Picton from the Charity Law and Policy Unit at the University of Liverpool about charity law and the ethical and legal challenges surrounding certain kinds of charitable donations. Issues discussed include tainted money, zombie trusts, and nationalising charitable assets.



From September all new primary school pupils will take the new reception baseline assessment (RBA) that will replace SATs in year 2.  For details, see here

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has written about the government’s £10 million programme to “curb unruly behaviour and prevent disruption in the classroom”. 

consultation launched last week will introduce changes to the role of Designated Safeguarding Leads in schools so that, as part of their existing safeguarding duties, they have a greater focus on improving the academic achievement of children on the edge of care.

The Department for Education and the Office of the Schools Adjudicator have published the annual report of the Chief Schools Adjudicator for England. The report covers the period 1 September 2018 to 31 August 2019, and records the progress made by admission authorities in England in complying fully with the School Admissions Code and achieving fair access to schools for all children.  The report found that the admissions system as a whole works effectively in the normal admissions rounds, where the needs of vulnerable children and those with particular educational or social needs, are generally well met. However, there is still concern about how well some vulnerable children fare when they need a place at other times.

Further education

The government has announced a £14 million fund to help improve leadership and governance across the further education sector. 


The Care Quality Commission has published a new report Promoting sexual safety through empowerment which looks at:

  • How can adult social care services best support people to express their sexuality? 
  • And how do they keep people safe from sexual harm? 
  • And the link between the two.

NCVO has published this Health and Wellbeing Alliance round up on social prescribing and NPC also has a blog on social prescribing

Social finance

Amy Lazenby, an investment director at Close Brothers, explains how to create socially responsible investment (SRI) portfolios, as charities want their investments to help build a more sustainable future.

Service delivery

NCVO is over halfway through its Rebalancing the Relationship project, which explores how large and small voluntary organisations bidding to deliver services can work better with, and alongside, one another. This interim report includes both emerging findings as well as draft recommendations for organisations. NCVO is calling for feedback to help develop the final recommendations and consider what support it may need to offer organisations. If you would like to have your say, please read the report and email a brief response to [email protected] by midday 27 March 2020.

International development

See under Safeguarding above.

Real estate

The Security Minister, James Brokenshire, has announced plans to introduce a law which will require owners and operators of public spaces and venues to put in place measures to keep the public safe from a terrorist attack. The new law, to be consulted on in the spring, would require venue operators to consider the risk of a terrorist attack and take proportionate and reasonable measures to prepare for and protect the public from such an attack. This could include increased physical security, having training in place, incident response plans and exercises for staff on what to do during an attack. The consultation will ask for views from business and the public sector on the proportionality, scope of the duty, and how it should be enforced.


The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator has published a video about telling your charity’s story with impact.

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 March 4, 2020.