Bates Wells Highlights
The Charity Commission has announced a 6-week consultation on draft revised investment guidance for charity trustees about adopting a responsible (or ‘ethical’) approach to investing their charity’s funds.
This week’s Briefing covers the two week period from 5th to 16th April.
At a glance
The Fundraising Regulator has published guidance on resuming public collections, events and community fundraising activities and cash collections.
Ofsted has published its plans for a review into safeguarding policies and practices relating to sexual abuse in state and independent schools and colleges.
Coronavirus – easing of lockdown restrictions
The move to Step 2 is reflected in the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps and Local Authority Enforcement Powers) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021/455). For the government’s guidance on Step 2, see COVID-19: Coronavirus restrictions: what you can and cannot do.
The government has:
- Updated its guidance “COVID-19: Guidance for the safe use of multi-purpose community facilities”.
- Published this letter to local authorities on how they should apply measures for reopening outdoor hospitality safely, including at listed buildings and historic visitor attractions.
- Updated its Roadmap Reviews policy paper to provide clarity on how the COVID-19 pandemic will be managed after the final step of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown is reached on 21 June 2021.
Coronavirus – fundraising guidance
Following the government announcement that door-to-door, street and private site fundraising could re-start from 12th April, the Fundraising Regulator has published:
- updated guidance to support fundraising organisations as they plan to resume public fundraising activities.
- A statement on the return to public fundraising.
With charity shops reopening, the Charity Retail Association has published an updated version of its Covid-19 Operational Guide. The guide provides guidance on operating safely during the pandemic. The new guide includes new information on a range of important issues including: ventilation, equality duties, spot checks and new legal duties in Wales.
Coronavirus – VAT
Temporary alterations to partial exemption methods
HMRC has published a brief outlining an accelerated process for VAT registered businesses to request temporary alterations to their partial exemption methods (including combined methods) to reflect changes to their business practices because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Extension to temporary reduced VAT rate for tourism and hospitality
Charity Finance Group reports the temporary reduced VAT rate of 5% for goods and services supplied by the tourism and hospitality sector has now been extended until 30 September 2021, at which point the rate will increase to 12.5% for a further six months until 31 March 2022, before returning to 20%.
Coronavirus- impact on the sector
Civil Society Media has this summary of evidence given by Helen Stephenson, chief executive of the Commission, to the Public Accounts Committee about the impact of Covid on the sector.
Responsible investment guidance
The commission has announced a 6-week consultation on draft revised investment guidance for charity trustees about adopting a responsible (or ‘ethical’) approach to investing their charity’s funds. The consultation also includes a revised legal underpinning. This consultation follows a Jan 2020 “listening exercise” to help it understand the barriers that may deter trustees who wish to make responsible investments from doing so. A number of respondents to that exercise identified the Commission’s investment guidance CC14 as one of those barriers.
The commission has proposed replacing sections 1 to 3 of CC14 in their entirety with revised guidance describing charity trustees’ duties when making financial investments. It will publish a full redesign of CC14 when it has completed this consultation and has therefore only invited comments on the revised content, not on other parts of CC14. The commission says that the revised guidance is intended to:
- Make it clear that charity trustees of all charities have discretion to adopt a responsible investment approach that reflects the charity’s purposes and values, and not just focus on the financial return.
- Explain that the rules that apply to responsible investments are the same as those that apply to all financial investments, including that charity trustees’ decisions must always be made in the best interests of the charity, and in line with its governing document.
- Highlight the different rules that apply when charities invest permanent endowment.
The consultation closes on 21 May 2021. The commission will publish a summary of the consultation responses in the summer.
On Thursday 22 April at 10am Bates Wells partner, Luke Fletcher, will be speaking at UBS’ trustee training webinar on purpose and how this relates to a charity’s investment portfolios. Luke will be discussing Bates Wells’ representations to the Charity commission in relation to CC14 and how this is laying the groundwork for charities potentially having greater flexibility in aligning their investments with their objects and their commitments to wider society. If you are keen to attend please contact Maddie Hutchings at UBS here.
Practitioner and Interim Manager Code of Practice
The commission has updated this Code of Practice, which sets out the principles of conduct between i) the commission and practitioners on the approved list of Interim Managers, and ii) the commission and appointed Interim Managers.
The commission has announced that it has appointed an Interim Manager to East-London Jewish charity Beth Yosef Foundation. The IM will take on the management of the charity to the exclusion of its trustees.
The commission has issued this guidance about donating to charities during Ramadan.
Tax and VAT
Gift Aid Awareness Day 2021 will be held on Thursday, 7 October.
Research published by ACF found that nearly all foundations are planning to maintain or increase spending on grants to civil society organisations in 2021 (86%), even though 40% are expecting a negative impact on their own finances.
According to Civil Society Media, a new report, “Digging Deeper: Insights on tailored funding to organisations led by Black people and communities experiencing racial injustice in 2020, says more needs to be done to address institutional racism and structural inequalities within funding.
The EDPB has adopted opinions on the draft UK adequacy decisions – the only concern appeared to be a comment that the European Commission should monitor issues arising from the immigration exemption’s impact on individual rights, safeguarding onward transfers to third countries, and interception and disclosure for national security purposes of personal data transferred to the UK.
See above under Coronavirus and Tax and VAT.
Face to Face fundraising
This week Chartered Institute of Fundraising and Bates Wells held a webinar discussing the key legal and practical issues for fundraisers when re-starting fundraising activities such as street and door to door fundraising, as well as the timetable and approach to putting on fundraising events as the lock-down restrictions begin to ease. Watch the webinar here.
Senior Associate Hannah Lyons commented afterwards “Key themes discussed included how to apply the various government guidance to charitable fundraising activities, the need to have robust COVID-19 secure measures in place when conducting public fundraising (including undertaking risk assessments) and the rules around what charities can or cannot compel their fundraisers to do in terms of testing and vaccinations.”
The Lotteries Council demonstrates that the National Lottery and Charity Lotteries complement each other. If you fundraise via lotteries, you might be interested in the Lotteries Council’s new report demonstrating that the National Lottery and Charity Lotteries complement each other, both to the benefit of charities and the country as a whole.
Ofsted has now published its plans for a review into safeguarding policies and practices relating to sexual abuse in state and independent schools and colleges, following a surge of anonymous allegations posted online.
The government has announced that children with special educational needs and disabilities will benefit from a £280 million funding boost. Councils will receive the funding to create new places in schools, academies, colleges and early years settings.
Behaviour experts have been selected to support other schools with poor discipline as part of the Department for Education’s £10 million Behaviour Hubs programme.
It has been announced that face coverings are to remain in place in schools and colleges at the start of the summer term, in line with data on limiting the risk of transmission.
The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has written a blogpost about the new regulations providing that independent schools will be allowed to choose to phase out their participation in the teachers’ pension scheme in England and Wales from August 2021.
The school leadership pipeline is ‘at risk of collapse’ according to this report from NAHT, which details its findings on the recruitment and retention crisis and its impact on school leadership.
The OfS has highlighted the significant equality gaps experienced by students who have been in care as compared to their peers, and offers recommendations to improve support at universities and colleges in this Insight brief.
A new condition of registration has been introduced by the OfS which enables them to intervene quickly when there is a material risk of closure to a university or other higher education provider. It will apply from 1 April 2021 to all providers registered with the OfS, expect Further Education Bodies.
All university students will be able to return to in-person teaching from Step 3 of the roadmap, (ie no earlier than 17 May), the government has confirmed. Students will be provided with home testing kits to help limit virus transmission.
The Department of Work and Pensions is recruiting an extra 150 specialist Youth Employability Coaches across the UK to provide young jobseekers facing significant barriers to employment get on the jobs ladder.
The National Data Guardian has published the findings of a dialogue with more than 100 members of the public about how to make sure health and care data is used in ways that benefit people and society. The NDG will use the insights to develop guidance to support people making decisions about access to data for research and innovation. The key findings include that to demonstrate public benefit, transparency is required throughout the whole data life cycle. This includes during collection, storage, assessment and use of data, not just at the point of an application or decision being made to use data.
Social finance and social impact investing
Social Investment Business – Debt-for-Equity Campaign. Social Investment Business considers the scale of government-backed lending presents a rare opportunity to utilise debt-for-equity swaps that could develop a more social economy by transitioning at-risk, yet viable, private enterprises to employee or community ownership at scale. It has launched a campaign with the aim of reducing the debt burden of SMEs, protecting local businesses and jobs and facilitating the transition of private businesses toward more social business models.
Third Sector – Membership bodies criticise ‘confusing’ local authority discretionary grant scheme. Third Sector research reveals more than 2,200 small charities in England have accessed at least £17.5m from about 140 councils under the Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund. However, Third Sector research found that fewer than half of all councils are willing or able to identify charities when awarding discretionary grants.
The Investing for Impact dynamic dashboards. The EVPA has announced that it will soon launch three ‘dynamic dashboards’ for exploring data on impact measurement and management, showing how practitioners are measuring managing their impact and that of their investments. These tools are connected to the EVPA’s new research effort to collect practical cases studies, from which to extract recommendations for practitioners.
Social Enterprise UK – Letter to Matt Hancock on the future of social enterprises in the NHS. Social Enterprise UK has written to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care noting that draft policy proposals have been interpreted by some parts of the system as a message from DHSC and NHS England that they should take services away from social enterprises and bring them back ‘in house’. SEUK expresses concern in relation to the £97m worth of contracts held by social enterprises that are up for review in the next 12 months.
Social Enterprise UK – One Year On: The effect of COVID-19 on the social enterprise sector. Social Enterprise UK has published an optimistic report using publicly available data and information from its monthly survey of social enterprises. Pioneers Post reports on the findings, noting that the proportion of social enterprises reporting that they were expecting to grow in the next three to six months has almost doubled between July 2020 and February this year – from 17% to 30%.
The Independent Review Panel of Charity Regulation is seeking the views of solicitors and governance advisors on how well the charities regulatory framework, which is administered by the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, is working and how it might be improved. Bates Wells Senior Associate Leona Roche has been asked to chair a virtual community meeting on 26 April 2021 at 1pm to discuss charity regulation in Northern Ireland and to share views on whether it could work better. This will include short presentations from the Independent Review Panel on the issues within the Review’s scope. For more information and how to sign up see here: Independent review of charity regulation – solicitors and governance group meeting | NICVA
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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 April 19, 2021.