Bates Wells Briefing for Charities & Social Enterprises | 7 April

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

Social Enterprise

Bates Wells Highlights

We’ve just released Positive Change: a podcast, to accompany our recent report on the current challenges, solutions and opportunities for the charity sector. The podcast focuses on the impact the pandemic has had on charity partnerships and collaboration over the past year.

At the beginning of this year, Charity Finance Group reported on widespread innovation and invention through the charity sector as a result of Covid-19. Data protection compliance needs to be built into the design of any new technology and data processing systems, so we have flagged 10 top data protection tips for charities which are moving into new digital ventures.

At a glance

DCMS has updated its guidance for organisations and groups in England on how to safely and effectively involve volunteers in their work during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Education Secretary has announced a new helpline to support potential victims of sexual harassment and abuse in education settings.

The Department of Health and Social Care has published a policy paper setting out its proposed reforms to the public health system in England

HM Treasury has published a summary of the responses it received to the call for evidence on Social Investment Tax Relief.

Coronavirus – easing of restrictions

Here’s the government announcement about easing of restrictions from 12 April. It includes:

  • Public buildings such as libraries and community centres can reopen.
  • The majority of outdoor settings and attractions can also reopen, including outdoor hospitality, zoos, theme parks, drive-in cinemas and drive-in performances events.
  • Parent and child groups of up to 15 people (not counting children aged under five years old) can restart indoors.

A Covid-status certification system will be developed over the coming months which could allow higher-risk settings to be opened up more safely and with more participants. Over the coming months, a system will be developed which will take into account three factors: vaccination, a recent negative test, or natural immunity (determined on the basis of a positive test taken in the previous six months). Pilot Events will take place from mid-April to trial the system. All pilots are checking Covid status, initially this will be through testing alone but in later pilots vaccination and acquired immunity are expected to be alternative ways to demonstrate status.

Coronavirus – government funding

The new Restart Grants scheme launched on 1st April, providing funding of up to £18,000 to eligible businesses. Businesses can check their eligibility for the Restart Grant here. The government has also issued a call to all local authorities across England to deliver new COVID grants to businesses in good time and to take a flexible approach to updated restrictions.

Details of more than 2,700 organisations being offered nearly £400 million in grants and loans to help the culture and heritage sector reopen and recover have been announced. The funding was reserved in the first round of the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund.

Coronavirus – volunteering

On 29 March 2021, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) updated its guidance for organisations and groups in England on how to safely and effectively involve volunteers in their work during the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance now says that people should continue to volunteer from home where possible. However, a person who cannot volunteer from home can volunteer outside their home (including within a workplace, unless it has been ordered to close) if they don’t need to self-isolate. Clinically extremely vulnerable people are advised not to volunteer outside their home, even if they have had both doses of a vaccine against COVID-19.

Charity Commission

New inquiries

The Charity Commission has announced that it has opened a statutory inquiry into animal conservation charity The Aspinall Foundation. The charity promotes animal conservation and has objects to promote education in zoology and to conserve wild animals in danger of extinction. The regulator says it began examining the charity in July 2020 over concerns about the management of conflicts of interest and related-party transactions. The commission has also announced a statutory inquiry into The Howletts Wild Animal Trust, a charity which runs two wildlife parks in Kent. The regulator began looking into the charity in December 2019 due to concerns about the charity’s management of conflicts of interest and a related-party transaction. Media reports about the opening of the two inquiries have stated that the two charities have trustees in common, but are separate entities, and are subject to separate investigations, see for example reporting in Civil Society and The Guardian.

Tax and VAT

See under Social finance below.


See under Education below.

Data protection

Facebook security breach – Data Protection Commission of the Republic of Ireland issues statement

Following the news that a dataset appearing to originate from Facebook was published on a public hacking website, the Irish Data Protection Commission has issued a statement to indicate that investigations are still ongoing to establish the exact circumstances of the breach. The dataset contains records of at least 533 million individuals, most of whom are based in the EU.


The Education Secretary has announced a new helpline to support potential victims of sexual harassment and abuse in education settings. The dedicated number, run by the NSPCC, went live on 1 April 2021 to provide both children and adults who are victims of sexual abuse in schools with the appropriate support and advice.


The Government has asked OFSTED to undertake an immediate review of safeguarding policies in state and independent schools.

The Department for Education has published new guidance for secondary schools to help progress plans for summer schools once they return from the Easter break, using the £200 million funding announced in February.

The Education Secretary has confirmed his request that Ofsted step up its inspection programme over the summer term, with a view to returning to a full programme of inspections from September 2021. The majority of summer term activity will remain lighter-touch, monitoring inspections.

Ofsted has announced that from April, it will publish a series of subject reviews and reports, taking a ‘state of the nation’ look at curriculum quality across primary and secondary schools.

The Equality Act 2010 (Capacity of parents and persons over compulsory school age) (Wales) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021/403) have been made and will come into force on 1 September 2021. The Regulations supplement the procedural framework in Schedule 17 to the Equality Act 2010, which sets out the arrangements for making disability discrimination claims in respect of disabled pupils.

Further education

As part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, the government has launched almost 400 new free qualifications. The qualifications on offer range from engineering to social care to conservation and are available to any adult who has not already achieved a qualification at Level 3 (equivalent to A-levels). So more unemployed people can take full advantage of these courses, the government will pilot an extension to the length of time they can receive Universal Credit while undertaking work-focused study. They will now be able to train full time for up to 12 weeks, or up to 16 weeks on a full time skills bootcamp in England, while receiving Universal Credit to support their living costs.

The Department for Education has announced the appointment of Shelagh Legrave OBE DL (Chief Executive of Chichester College Group) as the next Further Education Commissioner.

Higher education

UKRI has published harmonised diversity data on funding applicants and recipients of research council grants between 2019 and 2020.

The Office for Students has set out a new condition of registration to help protect students’ interests where a university, college or other higher education provider runs into severe financial difficulties – or has to close for other reasons.

Also see under Planning below.


The Department of Health and Social Care has published a policy paper on transforming the public health system, setting out its proposed reforms to the public health system in England

The National Audit Office has published The adult social care market in England, a report which analyses the role of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in overseeing the English social care market and makes accompanying recommendations.

Also see under Planning below.

Social enterprise sector news

UnFound Accelerator – open for applications. The UnFound Accelerator is a 10‑week business support programme, from Co‑operatives UK and Stir to Action, for teams at the early stage of setting up their ‘platform co‑operative’. Founding teams (of at least 2 people) that have a clear and compelling idea for a platform co‑operative can apply. The deadline for applications for the first round is midnight 11 April 2021.

Social finance and social impact investing news

Social Investment Tax Relief – Summary of responses to call for evidence. HM Treasury has published a summary of the 80 responses it received from a variety of stakeholders (including social enterprises, investors, fund managers and registered charities) to the call for evidence on Social Investment Tax Relief.

Department for Work and Pensions – Call for Evidence launched on the Social element of ESG investing. The Government has launched a 12 week call for views on how pension scheme trustees understand social factors and how they are included in their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) policies.

Slashed UK aid budget throws £160m impact investing programme into uncertainty. Pioneers Post reports on how cuts to the UK’s aid budget may affect funding for The Impact Programme, whose grantees include influential impact investment organisations including the Global Impact Investing Network, the UK’s Impact Investing Institute, the Impact Management Project and the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment.

Charity Bank secures £1million in equity capital investment to help fund surge in loan approvals. Charity Bank, the loans and savings bank for positive social change, has secured £1m in new equity investments from two investors: new shareholder The Samworth Foundation has invested £500,000, while existing shareholder Barrow Cadbury Trust has increased its total investment to £750,000.

2021 Ariadne Forecast for European Social Change and Human Rights Funders. Ariadne is a European peer-to-peer network of almost 700 individuals from 146 grant-making organisations that support social change and human rights. Based on a survey of around 275 network members and friends, Ariadne has released a report on the challenges and opportunities ahead for 2021 and exploring what funders have on their horizons for the year.  

Growth Narratives: An inquiry and provocation by charitable investors is a new report from ShareAction, looking at the role of responsible charity investors in moving to a ‘post-growth’ economy, where investment fuels activity such as to keep humanity within planetary boundaries.

Public procurement

The Cabinet Office has published the Public Procurement Common Framework: Provisional Framework Agreement (Common Framework). The Common Framework provides a non-statutory framework which aims to ensure continued co-operation in matters concerning public procurement between the UK government and the Scottish government, the Welsh government and the Northern Ireland Executive. The Common Framework will be reviewed every three years or where there is a “significant issue”. It can also be amended where the parties unanimously agree.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published its response to the government’s consultation on its Green Paper “Transforming public procurement”. The CMA response:

  • discusses the relationship between competition and procurement, and explains how the design of procurement processes can promote healthy, competitive markets. 
  • recommends that the list of procurement principles set out in the Green Paper should be expanded to include an “effective competition” principle, to the effect that procurement should promote healthy, competitive markets, which in turn drive better value for money and reduce the risk of illegal bid-rigging cartels.


The Pensions Regulator will be issuing a further consultation later this year on a new Defined Benefits Pensions Code. CFG would love to hear from you if you would like to participate in a round table to discuss the implications.

Northern Ireland

The Independent Review Panel of Charity Regulation will be conducting nine online seminars for various stakeholders including trustees, workers and advisors of charities of different sizes, as well as specific sessions for funders, solicitors, accountants, governance advisors and the general public. Each of the meetings will be focusing on regulatory issues pertinent to these key stakeholders. 

Stay vs Go

Think your office will have too much space in the long term? Whether you’re thinking about disposing of your office, moving to a new location or reconfiguring your existing space we are here to advise on your options. View our stay vs go mini guide here.

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 6, 2021.