The Charity Commission has issued a regulatory alert to large service-providing charities on the importance of transparent and accountable governance. Our Briefing here summarises what charities in receipt of the alert are expected to do, and how the alert may also be relevant to other charities.
We’re running a webinar tomorrow on the data privacy issues connected with employees working remotely or returning to the workplace in a COVID-19 world. We’ll explore a range of data privacy issues as well as guidance from the Information Commissioner and the practical steps that employers can follow to achieve compliance. Click here to sign up.
At a glance
The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 (CIGA 2020) is now law.
The Fundraising Regulator and Chartered Institute of Fundraising have published two pieces of guidance on fundraising in line with social distancing requirements.
The Scottish Land Commission has published two new protocols that set out practical expectations for private trusts and charities owning land in Scotland.
Coronavirus – government and other sources of funding
The government has issued:
- this update on funding for sexual violence and domestic abuse charities; and
- this summary of new funding from the Treasury to provide interim support for 15,000 vulnerable people accommodated during the pandemic. The money is to help rough sleepers secure their own tenancies as well as provide short-term housing.
NatWest Social & Community Capital Coronavirus support. NatWest is offering £1m in grants to organisations across the UK that employ people from disadvantaged or vulnerable groups. Applications opened on 22 June, for at least one week. The website page application button is still active as of Monday morning, 29 June.
Coronavirus – fundraising
Last week the Fundraising Regulator and Chartered Institute of Fundraising (IoF) published two pieces of guidance to support charitable organisations to return to fundraising activities in line with social distancing requirements. The guidance has been prepared in consultation with Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive and covers:
- the over-arching principles which should be applied to all fundraising methods; and
- specific advice on public fundraising (including street, door-to-door and private site fundraising).
The publication of these two pieces of guidance is the first instalment in a series from the Fundraising Regulator and IoF who say they will continue to publish practical advice covering fundraising activities affected by social distancing over the weeks ahead.
Coronavirus – sector regulators
On 24 June 2020 Companies House announced that it had added change of constitution forms to its emergency filing service. The forms added are:
- Give notice of restriction on the company’s articles (CC01);
- Give notice of removal of restriction on company’s articles (CC02);
- Notify the change of a company’s objects (CC04);
- Change constitution by enactment (CC05); and
- Change constitution by order of court or other authority (CC06).
Companies House states that it expects the service to next be expanded to include the upload of resolutions and articles of association. See here for the full list of documents that can now be filed online.
Also see below under Charity Commission.
Coronavirus – government guidance
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has published new guidance:
- Supporting the reopening of tourism and visitor attractions; and
- New guidance for reopening of museums, galleries and the heritage sector.
Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020
The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 (CIGA 2020) obtained Royal Assent on 25 June. The Act as passed is available here. Almost all of its provisions commenced on 26 June save that most of the temporary business protection measures it enacts have retrospective effect from 1 March 2020. This letter from Government summarises the application of the Bill to charities.
Look out later this week for our Briefing on the Act.
The commission has revised the guidance on members’ meetings and insolvency in light of the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020.
The Commission has published an inquiry report into The Royal National Institute of Blind People and RNIB Charity.
Regulatory alert to large service-providing charities
The commission has issued this regulatory alert on the importance of transparent and accountable governance, which has been sent with this letter directly to charities which have the following profile:
- income over £9 million;
- governed by a board of trustees and run by a separate group of executives; and
- a service-providing charity either with front-line staff directly serving and interacting with beneficiaries or which provides amenities or facilities to the public.
Bates Wells has published this Briefing – summarising what charities in receipt of the alert are expected to do, and how the alert may also be relevant to other charities.
Charity Commission statement on Christ Church, Oxford
The commission has issued a statement saying that it expects both sides in the dispute between the college governing body and the Dean at Christ Church, Oxford, to enter into a mediation process with a mediator selected by the commission. Both parties in the dispute have called on the commission to intervene further but the commission has said that any regulatory intervention can be effective only if relationships between all parties are stable.
Tax and VAT
A coalition including Charities Aid Foundation, Institute of Fundraising, Charity Finance Group, Charity Tax Group and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations has called on the Government to temporarily increase the level of Gift Aid that can be claimed on donations so that a £100 donation from a UK taxpayer would increase to £133.33 (as opposed to the current £125.00). The coalition estimates that this move could help charities to access an additional £450 million of much needed cash. It also includes changes to the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme to ensure it benefits all. The group have called for the increase to be in place for two years while charities work to recover from the crisis.
There has been some progress on aid worker passporting. The Aid Worker Passport Steering Committee commissioned a legal review in 2019 to guide the development of the Aid Worker Registration Scheme. The review was completed in March 2020 and the Committee now wishes to engage with stakeholders across the sector on the recommendations made. Feedback is welcomed from anyone involved in the aid sector. There is a presentation which guides you through the process.
The Information Commissioner’s Office has published further guidance on data protection during the recovery phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner, has stressed that “Data protection does not stop you asking employees whether they are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms or introducing appropriate testing, as long as the principles of the law – transparency, fairness and proportionality – are applied”. The guidance is broken into sections covering the ICO’s regulatory approach, testing, surveillance and individual rights. It also incorporates guidance previously issued, for example on workplace testing, although new FAQs have been added, including on making testing mandatory and what information should be provided to employees about results from a commissioned testing service.
The ICO sets out six key data protection steps which cover only collecting and using what is necessary, data minimisation, transparency to staff, treating people fairly, keeping data secure and ensuring staff can exercise their information rights. The ICO notes that it “will continue to help organisations and businesses through the current recovery phase by supporting innovation and economic growth, while ensuring that people’s information rights are not set aside”.
See under Tax and VAT above.
This year’s Institute of Fundraising (IoF) Convention, which will be held virtually from 6-8 July, will include a session on prospect research led by Bates Wells’ Lawrie Simanowitz and Hannah Lyons. “Two years on: Prospect research and compliance since the launch of the GDPR” will provide a practical look at how fundraisers can undertake prospect research and supporter profiling in a post-GDPR world. With organisations uncertain of what activities they can and cannot undertake, Bates Wells (who previously worked with the IoF to produce the “Connecting People to Causes: A Practical Guide to Fundraising Research”) will set out the legal framework. It will have been two years since the GDPR was introduced and over three since the ICO issued fines to charities for wealth-screening activities. Many organisations did not know how best to respond to these developments – now that the dust has settled, we can take a clear look at what is and isn’t allowed in terms of communications, research, data processing and wealth screening. This session will cover all of these areas, to allow attendees to consider what they need to do in order achieve compliance whilst at the same time enabling them to make better informed fundraising approaches and ultimately boost funds for their charity.
Sales of donated clothes
This Civil Society Media article “There is a clothing mountain looming over charity shops” looks at the challenges faced by charity shops and house to house clothing collections.
The Department for Education has:
- Updated its guidance ‘Providing free school meals during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak’ to include information about the Covid Summer Food Fund (the extension of free school meals throughout the summer holidays); and
- Updated its guidance ‘Supporting children and young people with SEND as schools and colleges prepare for wider opening’. The update includes a new section concerning educational settings requesting medical evidence ahead of re-admission of SEND pupils. The guidance states that educational settings should not seek medical evidence except to help them to support a child or young person more generally and that the return to educational settings of children and young people with education, health and care plans should be informed by risk assessments to ensure the correct level of support is in place.
The Education (Pupil Information) (England) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 have been made. The Regulations amend Schedule 1 to the Education (Pupil Information) (England) Regulations 2005, which requires head teachers of maintained schools to provide an annual report to parents and adult pupils in respect of every registered pupil at their schools. The new Regulations also exclude the requirement for attendance information relating to the school year 2019/20 to be provided in a head teacher’s annual report.
The Prime Minister has announced a £1 billion school rebuilding programme due to start in 2020-2021.
According to a report from the Social Mobility Commission, workers from disadvantaged backgrounds are being left behind by the apprenticeship system, with numbers slumping by more than a third since the introduction of the apprenticeship levy. The report ‘Apprenticeships and social mobility: Fulfilling potential’ also reveals that most of the benefits of apprenticeships are going to more privileged learners.
Backed by £9 million, the Government’s Holiday Activities and Food programme will support up to 50,000 disadvantaged children across 17 local authority areas.
See under Business rates above.
Social finance and impact investing news
The Road to Resilience: How Community Financial Services Can Help Level-up Britain (landing page) is a new report from the RSA taking a comparative look at banking in the UK and other countries, in order to make recommendations for changing financial services in the UK, including a call for more community banking services, greater focus on SMEs and a social investment fund to support the development of new products that benefit citizens. Third Sector magazine provides commentary.
The Resilience and Recovery Loan Fund: Five takeaways from our new online dashboard. The Social Investment Business (SIB) blog features Researcher, Jenny Smith, describing SIB’s recently launched Resilience and Recovery Loan Fund dashboards, which aim to promote transparency through sharing real-time data about the Fund, and setting out SIB’s top 5 takeaways from the data so far.
The power of shared value to generate sustained, strong commercial returns. Big Society Capital’s ‘Meet the Impact Manager’ guest blog series shares how some fund managers in its portfolio have been responding to COVID-19. This week, Camilla Dolan, Partner at Eka Ventures, shares how it is approaching impact investing and how COVID-19 has accelerated the growth of consumer technology companies with strong ‘shared value’.
Why We Invested: Connect Ventures III. Big Society Capital announces its participation in the third fund launched by Connect Ventures, a London-based VC firm focusing on seed-stage technology investments, that seeks to support purpose-led founders.
See above under Safeguarding.
BOND reports that according to the 2020 Aid Transparency Index, DFID meets the highest standards for reporting and transparency of all UK government departments that spend aid. Conversely, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) remains one of the least transparent spenders of foreign aid globally, ranking 38th out of 47 donors in the index.
The government has announced nearly £6 million of new funding is being confirmed to military charities across the UK including the Bluebirds Veterans Project and the Ceredigion Armed Forces Veterans Hub. A consultation will also be launched in July on employers paying no National Insurance contributions on the salary of any veteran they take on during their first year of civilian employment.
The Secretary of State for the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has indicated that the Environment Bill 2019-21 was unlikely to return to Parliament until after the summer recess. This is owing to the disruption to the Parliamentary timetable caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to pass legislation related to the end of the Brexit transition period.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) published guidance entitled Addressing cultural and governance failings in local authorities: lessons from recent interventions.
The Local Government Association (LGA) has issued a consultation on a Model Member Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct sets out the conduct that is expected of local authority members, and specific obligations that establish instances where action will be taken. Among other values and behaviours, it purports to require councillors to commit to civility, not bullying or harassing any person, ensuring the impartiality of council officers, and registering and declaring potential conflicts of interest. The LGA has stated that it has been informed by the disruption to the conduct of local authorities’ business presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, and particularly the increased frequency of online communications; these have been driven in part by legislative amendments that permit remote access to local authority meetings. The consultation closes on 17 August 2020.
OSCR has published a video of its virtual “Meet the Regulator” event which took place on 23 June.
Two new protocols that set out practical expectations for private trusts and charities owning land in Scotland, have been published by the Scottish Land Commission. OSCR has issued some information about this.
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 June 30, 2020.