Bates Wells Briefing for Charities & Social Enterprises | 16 March

Our weekly round up of news and updates from across the sector.

Charities, Social Enterprise

Bates Wells Highlights

The Charity Commission has found there are no grounds for regulatory action against the National Trust in relation to its publication of a report examining links between its properties and histories of colonialism and slavery.  See more below.

Here are some of the insights from a recent roundtable we convened for social enterprises who are leading the fight against climate change.

At a glance

The Charity Commission has launched a campaign aimed at helping trustees refresh their knowledge of charity governance.

The government has launched a new programme aimed at tackling abuse in the aid sector. 

The Home Office has now launched its new online modern slavery statement registry.   

The Minister for Communities in Northern Ireland has commissioned an independent review of charity regulation.  

Coronavirus – government funding

A £50 million boost to the Covid Winter Grant Scheme will cover the 2-week Easter period The scheme will now run until Friday 16 April. The grants are primarily for helping families buy essentials, with at least 80% of funds ring-fenced to be spent on food, energy and water bills, with 20% available for other associated essential costs. Councils can also offer support to vulnerable individuals and households without children.

The government has published its response to media coverage about the National Audit Office report on the Culture Recovery FundGovernment saysover 80% of grants awarded in the first round of the Fund have been paid to successful organisations with the final instalments scheduled to be paid in early April. 85% of loans to the value of over £149 million have also been paid to successful organisations since February. This means that the funding designed to support organisations up until April has now gone out.”

Coronavirus – business rates

The government has published guidance about the previously announced Expanded Retail Discount for 2021/22.  It includes a worked example for an occupied charity shop with a rateable value of £40,000.


The Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government has published Local government and the EU, a collection of guidance and information to help local authorities to adapt to the new rules following the end of the post-Brexit transition period.  The guidance includes information on:

  • Upcoming key milestones, including the deadline for receipt of applications for the EU Settlement Scheme on 30 June 2021, and the date that new border checks come in to force which is 1 April 2021.
  • Access to social housing and homelessness assistance for EEA and Swiss citizens in England.
  • Guidance for local authority children’s services, the schools and higher education sector and providers of further education and apprenticeships, on the new rules that have applied since January 2021.

The guidance also links to separate guidance on all the statutory instruments which have been laid and are identified as having impacts on local authorities.

The House of Commons Library has published a briefing,  After Brexit: Visiting, working, and living in the EU, which provides an overview of the implications of the UK’s new relationship with the EU for people wishing to travel or move to the EU.

Charity Commission

Trustee guides

The Charity Commission has launched a campaign aimed at helping trustees refresh their knowledge of charity governance and be “certain in uncertain times”. A suite of 5 animated videos has been launched across social media channels, each promoting one of the regulator’s 5-minute guides, which launched in November 2020.

National Trust regulatory case

The commission has published the conclusion of its regulatory case into the National Trust.  This was triggered by the Trust’s publication of an interim report examining links between its properties and histories of colonialism and slavery.  Also see this related blog by Charity Commission Chief Executive, Helen Stephenson in which she says “the National Trust has been able to demonstrate that its work to examine links between its properties and histories of colonialism and slavery was carefully considered, and that it fitted within its charitable objects.“  The National Trust has also responded in its own blogpost.

Bates Wells partner Lawrence Simanowitz comments, “After launching its very public investigation into the National Trust, the Charity Commission has found that the charity did no wrong but has still sought to justify its extraordinary intervention. An apology may have been more appropriate. It seems likely that the Commission’s intervention was driven by former Chair of the Commission, Baroness Stowell, with a wish to placate certain MPs and parts of the press. With Baroness Stowell no longer at the helm, the Commission has an opportunity to reset  and it is to be hoped that her successor will not be so quick to prioritise responding to media scare stories over sound regulatory judgement. It remains the law that charities are allowed to engage in controversial matters where what they are doing is a valid and important way of achieving their aims.”

Inquiry report

The Commission has published an inquiry report into Under Tree Schools, and disqualified one of its trustee for 15 years. 

Tax and VAT

Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme

HMRC has confirmed to Charity Tax Group that GASDS can be used by churches where donors who have been unable to attend church due to COVID give several weeks’ worth of donations in one envelope.  HMRC said “Where it is the case, for example, of separate donations being given in a single envelope, then if the church/charity official is happy these are clearly separate ‘small donations’ (and clearly stated as such) then they will be eligible for GASDS, as is the case where separate envelopes are used”.

Sector General

The Law Family Commission on Civil Society is seeking input on a range of questions about “how to unleash the full potential of civil society in the 2020s”.  It is open for anyone – civil society organisations and participants, policy makers and businesses – to share their opinions, experiences and feedback until 10 May 2021.  See here.

Climate change

Here are some of the insights from a recent roundtable we convened for social enterprises who are leading the fight against climate change.

The second round of the Green Recovery Challenge fund has opened for applications.  It will award up to £40 million in grants to environmental charities and their partners across England.

The planned Environment Bill will create a duty on ministers across Whitehall to be guided by five internationally recognised environmental principles when making policy. The Government is consulting on the draft policy statement on the five environmental principles which sets out how they should be interpreted and proportionately applied.

A new funding initiative to increase tree planting and natural regeneration in local communities has been announced by the government, with £2.7 million available this year.

Farmers are being encouraged to take part in the pilot of the Sustainable Farming Incentive – the next step in the Government’s landmark plans to reward farmers and land managers for sustainable farming practices.  Details of the new scheme have been published and expressions of interest for the pilot will open from Monday 15 March.


The government has launched a new programme which will “help bring perpetrators of sexual abuse, exploitation or sexual harassment in the aid sector to justice and provide vital support for survivors”. 

Civil Society Media reports only 22 UK charities have registered with a global programme launched 2 years ago to combat abuse in the aid sector. 

Data protection

The ICO has published guidance on the use of personal data in political campaigning.  See this blog post which explains the background.


A New Action Group consisting of a group of ministers, charities and Youth Ambassador Dr Alex George met for the first time on 9 March to look at the impact of the pandemic on the mental health and wellbeing of children, young people and education staff across England.

From 12 March 2021, schools, colleges and universities can now apply for funding to allow students to study and work across the globe as part of the new Turing Scheme. The programme, backed by £110 million, replaces the Erasmus+ scheme in the UK and will fund 35,000 global exchanges from September 2021, including university study, school exchanges, and industry work placements.

The Office for Students has published key findings from data highlighting the persistent gaps in access and outcomes experienced by some groups of students underrepresented in higher education. 

As ministers start the hunt for an organisation to run the National Tutoring Programme for its second year, Schools Week takes a look at what schools can expect from the expansion of government’s flagship catch-up scheme.

Schools Week reports on a draft law’s third reading in the House of Commons where Nick Gibb told MPs he would not ban controversial sole supplier contracts for school uniforms outright, but will ask leaders to re-tender at least every five years. 

Health and social care

The Competition and Markets Authority has launched a study of children’s social care provision to establish why “a lack of availability and increasing costs could be leading to the needs of children in care not being met”. 

Social finance and social impact investment

Foundation Scotland creates £20m impact investment portfolio  Civil Society Media reports on Foundation Scotland’s decision to move £20 million of its endowment into funds focused on social impact. This has taken place on the back of Foundation Scotland’s new impact investment strategy focusing on social responsibility and sustainability.

The Big Issue co-launches fund for people to invest in solving climate change  The Big Issue has partnered with Aberdeen Standard Investments to launch a new fund aiming to invest only in companies working to solve the climate crisis and help to create a cleaner, more sustainable world. The Multi-Asset Climate Solutions (MACS) Fund targets that get at least half of their revenue from climate change solutions and other key environmental challenges.

How social investment is giving power to communities  Ben Rick (Managing Director, Social and Sustainable Capital (SASC)), writes for Pioneers Post to explain why SASC is increasingly backing renewable energy projects led and owned by local communities.

Social Enterprise and the Climate Emergency  Bates Wells and Social Enterprise UK are partnering to host a series of ‘digital breakfast’ roundtable events aimed at leaders of social enterprises. The first event focused on the Climate Emergency and was filled with fascinating and inspirational insights from some of the social enterprises who are leading the fight against climate change.

International development

See under Safeguarding above.

Faith based organisations

The Muslim Council of Britain has published a new report Defining Islamophobia. It provides the most comprehensive analysis yet of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims’ definition of Islamophobia. Key recommendations include media organisations creating opportunities for young Muslims interested in media centric careers and providing viable routes into work, guidelines on how to establish faith friendly work environments for employers, and how to address Islamophobia at local and party level politics.


The government has launched a call for evidence seeking stakeholders’ views on the Insolvency Rules that set out the detailed requirements for company and individual insolvency procedures in England and Wales.  Stakeholders can access the call for evidence here. Responses must be received by 30 June 2021.

Modern Slavery

The Home Office has now launched its new online modern slavery statement registry.  Government plans to legislate to make it mandatory for organisations to submit their modern slavery statement to the registry, where they are required to produce a statement under section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. 

Northern Ireland

The Minister for Communities has commissioned an Independent Review of Charity Regulation in NI. The review, which commenced on 25 January 2021, will consider the Charities Act (NI) 2008 (the Act) and the roles of the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland (CCNI) and the Department for Communities.  The review will include:

  • whether the Commission’s performance within the existing legal framework strikes the right balance
  • a focus on s167 (charities established outside Northern Ireland operating in the North).

The review will make recommendations on changes that can be made to improve the delivery of services and the operation of the regulatory framework going forward.

18 March 2021 (4-6pm): Resolving trade mark disputes for charities

A charity’s name and brand – its identity – can be one of its most valuable assets. Someone else adopting a name or brand that’s too close to yours, or even deliberately imitating you online, can have serious consequences. Also, an allegation that you have infringed a third party’s rights can be extremely damaging.

Join Bates Wells’ head of Trade Marks, Mathew Healey, on Thursday March 18th at 4pm, as he provides practical guidance on the steps you can take to resolve these kinds of disputes more effectively – and to help prevent them arising. Click here to book your place.

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 15, 2021.