Bates Wells Briefing for Charities & Social Enterprises

Type
News

Bates Wells highlights

Our briefing “Brexit – where are we now?” has been updated to 15th December.    
 
This is our last Briefing for 2020.  Our next Briefing will be sent out the week beginning Monday 11th January 2021.  Thanks for reading this year; we hope to bring you cheerier news next year.


At a glance

The furlough scheme has been extended until the end of April 2021 and the government-guaranteed Covid-19 business loan schemes until the end of March.

The government has announced that it will publish the Budget on 3 March 2021.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has published its Data Sharing Code of Practice. 

The government has published a consultation on overhauling the public procurement regime.

NCVO has launched its report into diversity and volunteering.


Coronavirus – Extension of the furlough and business loans schemes

The furlough scheme has been extended until the end of April 2021 with the government continuing to contribute 80% towards wages.
 
Rishi Sunak also confirmed he would be extending the government-guaranteed Covid-19 business loan schemes until the end of March.  These include the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme, all of which had been due to close at the end of January.

Coronavirus – government funding
The government has said support for independent cinemas now reaches £16 million, with grant awards for 201 cinemas across England. 

Coronavirus – Mass Vaccination programme

NCVO reports the VCS Emergencies Partnership have been asked by the Minister for Civil Society to pull together a brief of where the voluntary sector can best support in regards to Mass Vaccination. They are particularly interested in how the Partnership can support with ‘disproportionately impacted groups’.  Early thoughts were requested by Friday 18 December, to include in a first pass submission to ministers but there’s time to submit further thoughts by Wednesday 6 January 2021.   Contributions should be sent to [email protected]


Coronavirus – meetings in Northern Ireland

New regulations extend the period during which registered societies and credit unions in Northern Ireland can take advantage of the flexibilities in the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 for holding virtual general meetings – it now expires on 29 March 2021.  Similar extensions have already been made for companies, CIOs, SCIOs and registered societies under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, where the relevant period now expires on 30 March 2021. 


Coronavirus – general

new study by the Charities Aid Foundation examines national policy responses to supporting philanthropic giving and civil society in the context of the pandemic.  It found that governments varied widely in how they viewed the ability of civil society to help and that some had used the pandemic to silence organisations that were seen as critics.  The report concludes governments cannot squander the lessons of Covid-19 in working with civil society. 


Brexit

Bates Wells’ Brexit guide
 
Our briefing “Brexit – where are we now?” has been updated to 15th December. 
 
Immigration
 
Bates Wells’ Immigration team have published:
 Part 1: A go-to guide if your staff are working in Europe (including Switzerland) now and into 2021New UK immigration route: Frontier Worker Permit 
Also see under Public procurement below.

Charity Commission

Coronavirus guidance
 
The commission’s coronavirus guidance page has been updated to reflect the rules about meeting socially which are applicable from 2 December and to update dates for some of the insolvency measures put in place by the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020.
 
Inquiry report

Christ Apostolic Church World Soul Winning and Evangelistic Ministry
Inquiry report
CC press release

The trustees obtained a bridging loan for £250,000 purportedly to fund maintenance work for their church building and used the church as collateral for the loan agreement.   Two former trustees said they signed the bridging loan agreement without seeing the terms and conditions. The former trustees defaulted on repayments of the loan and the property was repossessed by the loan company leading to a loss of charity property worth £1.2 million.

A lack of sound judgement by the former trustees led to them taking inappropriate risks.

The charity’s former Chair, Pastor Paul Obadare, was disqualified from acting as a trustee for a period of 10 years.


A fund raised for the charitable purpose of the prevention and relief of poverty of Rohingya Refugees (unregistered)
Inquiry report
CC press release 

I
n 2018, the Commission uncovered the fund and that its trustees were asking for donations to their personal bank accounts. Information on the platforms showed over £200,000 had been donated to the fund.
 

The fund raised was not a registered charity and the funds were raised through donations outside of a formal charity structure through two online fundraising platforms. The fund’s stated purpose made it charitable under the law.

The commission has removed both trustees from the fund and disqualified them from acting as trustees or holding a senior management function at a charity.

The commission has transferred the remaining funds of almost £200,000 to two registered charities that support Rohingya refugees.


Budget

The government has announced that it will publish the Budget on 3 March 2021. HM Treasury will accept representations on the Budget until 5pm, 14 January 2021 on its Budget 2021 representations portal.


Safeguarding

See under Education below.


Data protection
New guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office

The ICO has published:
 its Data Sharing Code of Practice.  Bates Wells’ Senior Associate Mairead O’Reilly explains “This new statutory Code of Practice follows a consultation on the ICO’s draft Code which was published in July 2019. Helpfully, one stated aim of the Code is to bust some of the main myths around data sharing – it makes clear that consent is not always needed for data sharing and that organisations are able to share personal data in an emergency. The Code touches on a wide range of particularly challenging data sharing scenarios including sharing personal data with law enforcement agencies and sharing children’s personal data. It also contains helpful guidance on the documentation that organisations should consider putting in place when sharing personal data, including data sharing agreements and Data Protection Impact Assessments. The Code is likely to be an important reference point for many organisations when (a) deciding whether to share data outside their organisation and (b) drawing up appropriate paperwork to document data sharing.”  Six things to consider when using algorithms for employment decisionsICO action to recover fine

The ICO’s Financial Recovery Unit (FRU) is starting proceedings to retrieve £250,000 from defunct company Pownall Marketing Limited (PML). The company was recently fined by the ICO for making over 350,000 nuisance calls. The ICO FRU has blocked PML’s application to strike itself off the Companies House register three times, ensuring the ICO can continue regulatory action. If the company fails to pay the penalty then the FRU will take appropriate action to recover the debt, which may involve petitioning for the winding up of the company and exercising the ICO’s full rights as a creditor in any insolvency.
 

Diversity and inclusion

NCVO has launched its report into diversity and volunteering, the third in a series of focused reports building on its Time Well Spent research. This report looks at diversity and volunteering from the perspective of volunteer-involving organisations.
 
NCVO’s new chair of trustees, Priya Singh, has written here about NCVO’s progress with equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and the recruitment of an independent chair of NCVO’s EDI subcommittee in the New Year. 

Education

The Department for Education has:

– Announced that all secondary schools, special schools, alternative provision and colleges in England will have access to rapid Covid testing to help detect asymptomatic cases and break chains of transmission from January. A later announcement said that schools will see students return on a staggered basis, with a free round of testing in the first week of January.

Announced that Dame Rachel de Souza has been confirmed as the new Children’s Commissioner.

Announced a £2.2bn increase in core funding that will see every local authority in England receive a funding boost for schools.

– Published a consultation seeking views on proposed changes to the statutory guidance ‘Keeping children safe in education’ with a view to making changes for September 2021. The consultation closes on 4 March 2021. 

The Secretary of State for Education has exercised the powers conferred by section 38 of, and paragraph 1 of Part 1 of Schedule 17 to, the Coronavirus Act 2020 and issued a temporary continuity direction to the London Borough of Greenwich that schools remain open to the end of term.

Health

Seven areas of countryside are to receive a share of over £5.5m to research how nature can be used to improve mental health and wellbeing.  The sites, which are based across England, will focus on communities hardest hit by coronavirus


Social enterprise sector news  

The Big Issue has launched a new campaign, ‘Today For Tomorrow’, to propose the ‘Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill’ that, if enacted, would require the UK Government to: work to prevent problems such as the climate crisis, poverty and pandemics (rather than focusing on being mostly responsive to emergencies); give current and future generations a voice in decision-making; and deliver a sustainable vision for the nation that prioritises our environmental, social, economic and cultural wellbeing.


Social finance and social impact investing new

Schroder BSC Investment Trust raises £75m from London IPO in impact investing first – Pioneers Post reports on the IPO of Schroder BSC Social Impact Trust, created by Big Society Capital, on the London Stock Exchange. Pioneers Post states that: ‘Much of the demand came from wealth managers on behalf of their clients – high-net worth individuals, endowments – who are explicitly asking for more socially and environmentally impactful investments…’
 
How social impact investment will provide safe homes for women – Big Society Capital (BSC) announces the launch of its Women in Safe Homes fund, a joint venture with Resonance and Patron Capital and BSC providing £10m towards its first close. The fund plans to buy around 650 affordable homes across the UK and lease them to the women’s sector and homeless charities who will them rent them to women at risk of homelessness, with the intention to scale in the next 2 years, with a target of raising £200m from other investors. For more, Pioneers Post also reports on the announcement, providing additional commentary.

Housing and homelessness 

The Government has pledged a further £310 million to tackle homelessness.


Volunteering

NCVO has published a summary of its recent National Volunteering Forum.  The theme was Engaging Volunteers and Paid Staff. 


Public procurement

Last week NCVO hosted an online event for charities on the new social value framework to be applied to new central government procurements from 1 January 2021.   See here for a summary

The government has published a consultation on Transforming public procurement, a Green Paper which focuses on overhauling the public procurement regime.

The Cabinet Office has published Procurement Policy Note 11/20: Reserving below threshold procurements (PPN 11/20), together with a guide to reserving below threshold procurements.


Accounting

See under Scotland for a blog on going concern considerations for charity trustees.


Scotland

OSCR has published:


Northern Ireland

See above under Coronavirus.


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 22, 2020.