Bates Wells Briefing for Charities & Social Enterprises | 12 May

Bates Wells highlights

Charities, Social Enterprise

Bates Wells is part of a group calling on the Government to prioritise a green recovery as the Prime Minister prepares to lead the UK into a new normal.

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At a glance

The government has published more details of the £750m package for the sector.

The Parliamentary Department for Culture Media and Sport committee has published its report into the impact of COVID-19 on the charity sector.

The Association of Charitable Organisations has published guidance for organisations looking to set up new funds to provide financial support to people affected by COVID-19.

Social Enterprise UK has published a research report “Social enterprise and COVID-19”.

Coronavirus – general

NCVO is gathering information about what coming out of lockdown might mean for the sector.   Please help by filling in their form.

Coronavirus – government funding

Last week Civil Society reported that the Government has published more details of the £750m package of support for the sector:

  • More than £26m has been allocated to the Department for Education for charities focussed on work with vulnerable families.
  • £25m will be spent by the Ministry of Justice to help charities working with domestic abuse survivors.  See here for details of how domestic abuse charities can access the promised funding. 
  • £10m is for the Department for Housing Communities and Local Government for safe accommodation services.
  • For the Home Office – £4m for local domestic abuse and modern slavery organisations; £7.8 million for charities helping children at risk of exploitation.
  • There’s been no further detail about the system for distributing £370m to small charities, being handled by the National Lottery Community Fund.
  • £16m will provide food for those who are struggling as a result of coronavirus.  The programme will provide millions of meals over the next 12 weeks and be delivered through charities including FareShare and WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme).  At least 5,000 frontline charities and community groups in England will benefit, including refuges, homeless shelters and rehabilitation services.

Civil Society has also reported that DFID has written to charities saying that it will consider exceptional financial support for some organisations, but cannot cover all losses. DFID has said it will consider making advance payments on existing contracts as well as making ongoing payments for programmes which have been paused because of the pandemic

It is not clear if these new funding streams announced last week form part of the £750m package:

  • The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) has announced that £5.4m of new government funding will be made available to support the legal advice sector during the COVID-19 outbreak. The funding is designed to help organisations to continue to provide legal advice throughout the pandemic, increase capacity and deliver services remotely. It will be distributed through not-for-profit organisations and Law Centres across England and Wales.   The announcement follows the MoJ’s launch of a new Legal Support for Litigants in Person Grant, totalling £3.1 million over two years, which was announced on 23 April 2020.
  • The government has launched a £14m support fund for zoos and aquariums.

Last week the Parliamentary Department for Culture Media and Sport committee published its report into the impact of COVID-19 on the charity sector.  The report was critical of Government support, finding:

  • £750m Government emergency support is not enough to prevent the closure of charities across the country;
  • A lack of transparency in allocating funds means deserving charities will lose out; and
  • The Secretary of State for DCMS was unable to provide sufficient detail or clarity about the eligibility criteria two weeks after HM Treasury outlined the support.

The report contains a list of recommendations, including a call for the following urgent action within four weeks:

  • An immediate review of measures to support businesses to ensure they fully meet the needs of the charity and voluntary sector to prevent charities from folding;
  • Publication of clear and comprehensive guidance about the criteria that will be used when allocating support and how organisations can apply for it, without delay; and
  • Backing for the charity sector’s call for a stabilisation fund to secure its long-term financial health and diversity.

Oliver Dowden, the DCMS Secretary of State, is required to report back to the committee on progress by 5 June.

NCVO explains here how it is lobbying to make the Government’s COVID-19 support schemes work better for charities.

Coronavirus – accessing other funding/support

Following lobbying led by the Charity Tax Group, local councils will now have the discretion to make grants of up to £25,000 to small charities which own properties and would normally meet the criteria for small business rates relief. Under the previous rules, organisations claiming charity status did not qualify for the grants.   There’s more detail in this CTG briefing which says that Government will confirm the exact amount for each local authority next week.

Youth Endowment Fund commits £6.5m to reach “invisible children” The new funding will fund activities that support vulnerable children at risk of youth violence and will also find the very best ways to reach and support these vulnerable children under the current social distancing and stay-at-home guidelines.

OFGEM is to make £13 million available for charities to support vulnerable energy consumers. The Energy Redress Scheme has opened its latest funding round for applications. The priority of the scheme is to support energy consumers in vulnerable situations, with a small percentage of the fund available to support innovative products and services that will help existing or future energy consumers. This round includes a new COVID-19 Crisis Fund of up to £10m, open to charities that support vulnerable households unable to top up their prepayment energy meters.

Investment Support Webinar Series Launch. The Big Issue Invest is running a series of three webinars aimed at helping small businesses seeking funding during COVID-19. The series will specifically look at: What is your contingency plan during this time? Do you have all of the documentation you need to be eligible for funding? And what is the impact your business provides and can you articulate it clearly enough for Funders to understand and back you?

The government has published “Guidance for businesses seeking to help voluntary, community, and social enterprise organisations during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak”. It covers offering services, funds and staff as volunteers.

Coronavirus – resources for funders

Charity Times reports the Association of Charitable Organisations has published guidance for organisations looking to set up new funds to provide financial support to people affected by COVID-19. The guide, “Coronavirus: delivering financial support”, is designed to draw attention to the key considerations and minimum requirements involved for grant makers looking to set up new funds for individuals during the pandemic.  It also provides insight into how charities have adapted their usual grant-making procedures in light of COVID-19 to be more flexible, to provide advice to new grant makers on how to set up their operations.

NPC has published this case study about how London Funders, the membership body for funders of London’s civil society, were among the first to openly display funder best practice in their response to the coronavirus crisis.

Charity Commission

Guidance on independent examination during COVID-19

The UK charity regulators have published joint guidance on independent examination of charity accounts during the pandemic. The guidance includes information on practical issues arising from restrictions related to COVID-19, particularly the impact on access to records and access to those in management and control of the charity; areas that examiners should pay particular attention to; implications for the examiner’s report itself; and the sign off and filing of accounts. The guidance is intended to supplement, and be read alongside, the regulators’ existing guidance on independent examination.

New fraud webinar

The Fraud Advisory Panel and Charity Commission have pre-recorded a webinar with sector partners to help you spot COVID-19 related fraud, and better protect your charity from harm.  As part of the webinar, fraud experts from the City of London Police and Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy share practical advice and tips.

Data protection

Coronavirus tracing apps

The Information Commissioner’s Office has published a discussion document setting out its expectations and recommended best practice for the development and deployment of COVID-19 contact tracing apps.



Daniel Fluskey, Head of Policy and External Affairs at the Chartered Institute of Fundraising, summarises here the kinds of discussions, questions, topics that have been taking place as fundraisers prepare for the next phase of the pandemic.  They include that the CIF is:

  • working with the Fundraising Regulator with the aim of putting out joint guidance on different areas of public fundraising about how fundraising can happen in a safe and responsible way, particularly in relation to mass participation events, community, public and payroll fundraising.
  • working with Charity Retail Association to look at how charity shops can re-open, and measures to be implemented for employees and volunteers.

Free prize draws

The Advertising Standards Authority has issued guidance “Dealing with unexpected events when running promotions”, which draws promoters’ attention to section 8 of the CAP Code, which acknowledges the possibility of events occurring that are both unexpected and beyond the promoter’s control. The ASA recognises that the current pandemic is an exceptional circumstance which may make it necessary to rethink elements of a promotion but if they do so, promoters must ensure that any change complies with the Code. The announcement addresses specifically:

  • Changes to the availability of promotional items;
  • Changes to the terms and conditions of prize promotions;
  • Changes to the closing date; and
  • The inability to award the prize initially advertised.


The Department for Education has published:

  • notice modifying section 3 of the Education Act 1996 (EA 1996) in relation to pupil registration requirements when providing education on a temporary basis during the COVID-19 pandemic. The notice modifies section 3 of the EA 1996 (which defines a “pupil”) in relation to pupil registration under section 434, so that for the purposes of the EA 1996: A person is not to be treated as a pupil at a school merely because education is provided for them at the school on a temporary basis, the child is not to be registered as a pupil at the host school.
  • non-statutory guidance on temporary changes to education, health and care legislation during the COVID-19 outbreak
  • guidance on how local authorities may use their dedicated schools grant funding differently during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • policy statement setting out a government support package for higher education providers and students

The Education and Skills Funding Agency on 6 May published a COVID-19 update for academies, further education and local authorities.

Following the introduction of School Admissions (England) (Coronavirus) (Appeals Arrangements) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 on 24 April, the Lawyers in Local Government and Association of Democratic Services Officer has publish guidance on the new regulations.

Social finance and social enterprise

The World Economic Forum announces the formation of the COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs, which represents a network of over 15,000 social entrepreneurs, cumulatively impacting 1.5 billion. The Alliance intends to provide holistic support and, whilst it will not offer separate funding, members hope that uniting under a common name will help them attract more finance. Pioneers Post also provides commentary.

Social Enterprise and COVID-19 is a new research report from Social Enterprise UK finding that social enterprises are not being served well by the Government’s support packages.

COVID-19: Social enterprise funding you might miss – 8 May update Pioneers Post lists some of the COVID-19 funding available with deadlines approaching.


The Regulator of Social Housing has published a report following responses to its first Coronavirus Operational Response Survey. The results show that housing associations and local authorities are working hard to maintain essential operations in the face of the impact of the virus and finding solutions to their most pressing challenges. These include redeploying staff, identifying new contractors and suppliers, and contacting more tenants by phone and by text, particularly tenants who are vulnerable.

International development

BOND reports its latest survey shows that 50 out of 116 organisations won’t survive longer than six months without additional funding. This is an increase from 34 NGOs who said they faced closure after six months in its previous survey in late March.


The government has given more details of a £2 billion package, announced in February, to “create a new era for cycling and walking”.  

Local authorities

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LG&SCO) has published guidance for local authorities on good administrative practice during the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance is intended to be an addendum to the LG&SCO’s six principles of good administrative practice (which include being user-focused, being open and accountable and acting fairly and proportionately) and is structured in the same way. Key points of note include:

  • Emphasising the importance of good record-keeping during such a crisis, in order to document how and why decisions were made and setting out when normal practice has been departed from.
  • Recognising that complaint handling capacity will be reduced but ensuring that authorities are still able to deal with the most serious and high-risk issues that are brought to them. The LG&SCO recommends that blanket delays for dealing with all complaints should be avoided and consideration is given to the seriousness and urgency of each individual complaint.
  • Recommending that local authorities ensure that they are planning for a return to normal levels of complaint handling. The LG&SCO recognises that most local authority staff will be focused on short-term responses to COVID-19 but highlights the importance of taking a longer-term approach in order to ensure readiness for normalisation.


OSCR is publicising the second round of the Scottish Government’s Wellbeing Fund which is open to applications from voluntary sector organisations providing crucial services to people as a result of coronavirus.

OSCR has emailed all Scottish charities asking them to complete a survey on the impact of coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown measures.

OSCR is hosting a Charities and Coronavirus – accounts and reporting to OSCR webinar on Thursday 21 May at 12.30.

Easing lockdown and planning for a return to the workplace: key considerations for employers

We are all now having to grapple with the easing of lockdown restrictions. For some UK employers this means turning to the difficult task of reopening their workplaces and considering what ‘normal’ should look like after the end of lockdown. At the forefront of this will be protecting the health and safety of staff coming back to work. In our latest update, we have explored the key questions going forward, including:

  • Can employers ask their workers to self-declare COVID-19 symptoms? How much information can be disclosed to other workers?
  • What if an employee does not want to return to the office?
  • What should employers be considering in the long term?

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 May 12, 2020.