Bates Wells Briefing for Charities & Social Enterprises | 27 July

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

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Bates Wells Highlights

We have collected all our briefings on the Charities Bill together on our “Charities Bill, Explained” page. Our latest briefing looks at the changes and clarifications to the law around legacies

Do you have a novel idea to help make society a better place? Apply to the 2021 Stephen Lloyd Awards before 31 August. The Awards seeks entries from charities, social enterprises and those with a curious mind to overcome barriers to social change. 


At a glance

The Fundraising Regulator and the Chartered Institute of Fundraising have published guidance for fundraising following the lifting of restrictions. 
 
Charity Tax Group has shared two notes relating to Gift Aid claims on Facebook donations.
 
The Social Mobility Commission has launched its State of the Nation report 2021.   

A coalition of health and education experts have committed to making mental health and wellbeing a central part of education recovery plans in education settings across England.
 
The government is consulting on a new Health and Disability Green Paper. 


Coronavirus – new regulations

The lifting of restrictions has been made via the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps etc) (England) (Revocation and Amendment) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021/848) which came into effect at 11.55 pm on 18 July. 

The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021, which insert a new provision requiring staff employed in registered care homes to be fully vaccinated unless they are exempt, have been laid before Parliament. They will come into force 16 weeks from 22nd June. 


Coronavirus – government guidance on lifting of restrictions

The government has published:

The following new guidance has also been published:


Coronavirus – other guidance

The Fundraising Regulator and the Chartered Institute of Fundraising have published guidance for fundraising following the lifting of restrictions.

Bates Wells senior associate Hannah Lyons comments “As with any guidance from the Fundraising Regulator, this guidance does not have the same status as the main Code of Fundraising Practice.  However, there’s clearly potential for complaints from members of the public if they feel fundraising is resumed in a way that they are not comfortable with.  It’s therefore particularly important that charities planning in-person fundraising take account of this guidance in their planning.”

The Charity Retail Association has published guidance on the easing of restrictions in England.


Coronavirus – impact on sector

On Thursday 29 July, 10 – 11.30, NCVO is holding an online event: ‘Lifting of coronavirus restrictions: sharing experiences and concerns”.  There are currently no tickets left for this event but you can email [email protected] to be added to the waiting list. NCVO is also conducting a survey – see here.

NCVO has published the latest results from the Respond, Recover, Reset survey. 

  • 64% of organisations expect Covid-19 to have a moderate or significant negative impact on delivering their objectives next year
  • 68% expect an increase in demand for their services over the next month
  • 45% reported a stable financial position in the last month

In this blog, Dan Corry, NPC’s Chief executive explores how Covid has further exposed the divides in our society, and discusses inequality and how we can tackle it, using what we learnt during the pandemic.

This guest blog for NPC looks at how the National Gallery has responded to Covid-19. It gives some pointers as to what the future may look like for the arts sector.


Coronavirus – business interruption test case

The Financial Conduct Authority has updated its webpage on its business interruption insurance test case. 


Brexit

See under Regulation below.


Charities Bill

During the second reading debate on the Charities Bill on 7 July, the government minister Baroness Barran announced that Government has accepted the recommendation in the Law Commission’s 2017 report on Technical Issues in Charity Law that Government periodically review all financial thresholds in the Charities Act 2011, with a view to increasing them by secondary legislation in line with inflation. Government agrees that such a review should take place at least every 10 years and, subject to resources, will aim to undertake a review in 2022. Thresholds in relation to permanent endowment and failed fundraising appeals will be included.

The House of Lords has set up a Special Public Bill Committee for the Charities Bill. The committee members are: Etherton, L (Chair), Barker, B, Barran, B, Bellingham, L, Cruddas, L, Fullbrook, B, Goudie, B, Parkinson of Whitley Bay, L, Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.

We have collected all our briefings on the Bill together on our “Charities Bill, Explained” page.  Our latest briefing looks at the changes and clarifications to the law around legacies


Charity Commission

CC annual report and research into public trust in charities

Last week the Charity Commission published a suite of documents including its annual report for the financial year 2020-2021, and independent research into public satisfaction with the charity sector and the Commission.

CC response to BEIS consultation

Earlier this year, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) published a consultation “Restoring Trust in Audit and Corporate Governance”.  According to Civil Society Media, the commission response to that consultation says that new financial reporting rules which would apply to charities with income over £100 million are ill-suited to charities and would impose an “extensive additional regulatory burden and financial cost on the sector”. The Commission suggested that instead it could work with the government to “establish the extent to which the existing mechanisms that are already in place for the charitable sector could be enhanced to meet the desired outcome of the government of improved corporate governance and oversight”.

Inquiry report

The commission has concluded its inquiry into seven separate charities which all had links to one individual. The commission opened a class inquiry into these connected charities in April 2019, after proactively identifying serious financial concerns. The commission says that false and misleading information had been submitted to the regulator (via accounts and annual returns) to give the impression that these charities were being well run.  The individual has been disqualified from trusteeship and senior charity management positions for the longest possible time – 15 years. Another trustee of one of the charities was also disqualified for 5 years as a trustee for his role in the financial and governance failings.

E signatures on accounts

The Charity Commission is now accepting ‘e signatures’ on the copy annual trustees’ report and accounts filed with the Charity Annual Return. Its updated accounts guidance says these can be docusign signatures, typed signatures or electronic versions of a signature (ie a scanned version of a handwritten signature).  This is subject to any specific requirement on the charity’s governing document for either handwritten or electronic signatures.

Charitable companies should note company law still formally requires ‘wet ink’ signatures on paper hard copy accounts and reports filed at Companies House, including independent scrutiny reports from auditors and independent examiners as well as trustees’ reports. In practice copies of handwritten signatures are sometimes accepted but this is not guaranteed.

Our company and charity secretarial team are able to assist clients in preparing and filing the charity annual return and meeting other reporting and records requirements. Contact us to discuss your needs [email protected] +44(0)20 7551 7748.


Tax and VAT

Gift aid and Facebook donations

Charity Tax Group reports it’s Gift Aid practical issues working group has been working closely with HMRC to gain clarity on Gift Aid claims relating to Facebook donations. It has now shared two notes that were prepared for the group last year here. CTG says:

  • as outlined in the first note, claims are possible subject to charities being satisfied that they hold sufficient Gift Aid declaration information via Facebook. This is a decision for individual charities to make and it is important that charities document the reasons why they are making claims. CTG would welcome feedback from charities that have made successful claims on Facebook donations and any issues they have encountered (in particular any problems with data reconciliation. Please send any comments to [email protected].
  • Charities should also consider the GDPR implications of Gift Aid claims via third party fundraising platforms by reading this note.

Diversity and inclusion

The Government has launched its Tackling violence against women and girls strategy.

The House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee has launched an inquiry into workplace issues surrounding the menopause. The inquiry will examine existing discrimination legislation and workplace practices, to consider whether enough is being done to prevent women from leaving their jobs as a result of menopausal symptoms, or suffering other adverse consequences.  Submissions to the inquiry can be made until 17 September 2021.

The Runnymede Trust has published a report on race and racism in England submitted to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UN CERD).

The latest results from the NCVO Respond, Recover, Reset survey include that:

  • 74% of the organisations who responded to the survey mentioned that they have plans in place to address equality, diversity, and inclusion to target the under-representation and negative experiences faced by some groups in their organisation. 59% of these organisations have revised their equality, diversity and inclusion plans since March 2020.
  • The most predominant changes in procedures performed by organisations in order to promote greater equality, inclusion and diversity as a result of their experience since March 2020 have been staff training (16%), safeguarding (12%) and staff recruitment (13%).

The Financial Reporting Council has published new research in conjunction with London Business School, Leadership Institute and SQW on board diversity and effectiveness in FTSE 350 companies. The research found that ‘the effort to diversify boards pays benefits in terms of boardroom culture and performance’ but that ‘boards should recognise that change takes time and that diversity without active inclusion is unlikely to encourage new talent to the board’.

Also see under Children’s services below.


Data Protection

See above under Tax, Gift Aid and below under Fundraising.


Fundraising

See above under Coronavirus – other guidance

See this joint blog from the Fundraising Regulator and Information Commissioner’s Office reflecting on the past five years of fundraising and data protection regulation.


Communities

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has launched the government’s long-term plan to support and regenerate high streets, Build Back Better High Streets. It includes:

• The Community Ownership Fund, to facilitate local communities buying or taking over local community assets at risk of being lost and running them as community-owned businesses.
• The Community Renewal Fund, to provide an opportunity for places across the UK to bid for projects that can fund green infrastructure and improvements to public space and cycle lanes.
• The Levelling Up Fund, to facilitate the removal of derelict buildings to make way for new developments, the remediation of abandoned or brownfield sites for both commercial and new residential use, and the delivery of new public spaces.

The government has published details of the Community Ownership Fund, a £150 million fund over 4 years to support community groups across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to take ownership of assets which are at risk of being lost to the community.


Children’s services

The Social Mobility Commission has launched its State of the nation report 2021.  It calls for a shake-up of child welfare benefits and significant investment in education to put disadvantaged children and young people at centre stage of the government’s recovery plan.


Adoption services

Backed by a £48 million investment, a new National Adoption Strategy has been launched this week. 


Education

Schools

A second set of 50 schools to benefit from the government’s £1 billion rebuilding programme has been announced.  The government has opened a consultation that closes on 8 October 2021 on how to prioritise further schools to receive the funding.

A coalition of health and education experts have committed to making mental health and wellbeing a central part of education recovery plans in education settings across England.

The High Court has ruled in a landmark case that the decision of the Secretary of State to force Yew Tree primary school to academise was “irrational”.  The National Association of Head Teachers has commented here.

The DfE has issued updated guidance for schools and colleges on careers education and access.

Ofqual has published the outcome of its consultation on the Exam Procedures Review Service for 2021 qualifications.  The Terms of Reference can be found here.

Ofsted has published its annual report and accounts for 2020 to 2021, focussing on its response to Covid-19.

The latest ESFA updates for academies can be found here and here

Further Education

The latest ESFA updates for further education can be found here and here.

Higher Education

Following a consultation, the Secretary of State for Education has confirmed in new terms and conditions that the OfS will distribute £1.4 billion to supplement course fees.  

The OfS is consulting on new conditions to allow the regulator to intervene more frequently in universities and colleges where courses fall beneath minimum standards. Responses must be received by 27 September 2021.

Following the publication of the government’s Tackling violence against women and girls strategy (see under Equality above), the Department for Education will be reviewing options to limit the use of non-disclosure agreements in cases of sexual harassment in higher education.


Vulnerable adults

The Changing Futures programme, a joint government initiative with The National Lottery Community Fund, will provide almost £55 million to 15 local areas across England over the next three years, part of a wider £64 million programme. This will provide support and treatment for vulnerable adults facing a combination of homelessness, substance misuse, poor mental health, domestic abuse, or contact with the criminal justice system.


Health and social care

The government is consulting on a new Health and Disability Green Paper. The proposed changes include:

  • Enabling independent living and testing the role of advocacy, so people who need extra help to navigate the benefits system get the right level of support and information first time;
  • Reviewing how assessments are carried out including testing a new Severe Disability Group (SDG) for people with severe and life-long conditions that will not improve; and
  • Improving support for disabled people to help them start, stay and succeed in work through the Work and Health Programme.

The consultation is open for 12 weeks, and will run alongside a series of consultation events with disabled people and those with health conditions, and their representatives. A White Paper is expected in mid-2022.

The Department of Health and Social Care has published the government’s response to its Jan 2021 consultation on reforming the Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA 1983).  The DHSC has indicated that responses to the proposals detailed in its White Paper were “overwhelmingly positive”. The Queen’s Speech 2021 had indicated that the Mental Health Bill would be published in early 2022, although the consultation response makes no further comment on a projected timescale for the reforms.

The government has launched a new multi-million pound strategy to speed up diagnosis and improve support and care for autistic people.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published terms of reference for its inquiry into challenging and monitoring local authority decisions about individuals’ entitlements to adult social care or support. The inquiry will review the effectiveness of existing methods of challenging local authority decisions, including complaints to local authorities, the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman and judicial review. It will examine individual experiences of challenging, or attempting to challenge, decisions about adult social care or support, and whether local authorities and other relevant bodies improve their decision-making following such challenges.


Social investment and social impact investing

£150m Community Ownership Fund. The government is providing £150m over 4 years to support community groups to take ownership of assets and amenities at risk of being lost. Voluntary and community groups can bid for match funding to acquire important assets and run them for the benefit of the local community. The Fund will run until 2024/25 and there will be at least 8 bidding rounds in total. Applications can be submitted from 30 July 2021 and all bids must be received by 13 August 2021. Guidance on the assessment criteria can be found here. For more, Co-operatives UK comments on the launch.  

Charity investors should be made to consider the environment, peer says. Civil Society Media reports on Baroness Hayman’s comments during the Charities Bill debate, which included arguing for more rules to encourage charities to support environmental goals and identifying the omission of “sustainability” from the Charity Commission’s statutory remit which is at odds with other parts of government policy.

For a healthier society, we need more system-level investing. Kieron Boyle (CEO, Guy’s & St Thomas’ Foundation) and William Burckart (President, The Investment Integration Project) write for Pioneers Post on how catalytic capital, starting small and encouraging others to follow suit can make a big impact. Guy’s & St Thomas’ Foundation has been testing whether funds from its entire endowment, and not just the proceeds, could be used for its mission of improving health and well-being.

Blended finance has the potential to address the climate financing gap – But the current grant-capital-return mix is standing in the way. Responsible Investor Magazine features writing from the Sustainable Trade Initiative, looking at the role of blended finance in reaching small-scale farmers around the world, to provide the resource necessary to shift to low carbon and restorative farming models. This writing may be of interest to those working in the international develop context, in particular.


Social enterprise sector news

The Office of the Regulator of Community Interest Companies has updated its guidance, on the page: Community interest companies: forms and step-by-step guides, regarding the filing of CIC accounts online.

Soros-led acquisition of diagnosis test firm sees switch to social enterprise model. Pioneers Post reports on Soros Economic Development Fund and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s acquisition of diagnostic technology company, Mologic, into the social enterprise “Global Access Health”. Global Access Health will provide affordable medical technology to low and middle-income communities and regions. This unique transaction will enable philanthropic funds and investors to work with the company to focus its resources to solve one of the world’s most pressing public health issues.


Sport

The Prime Minister has announced an additional £50 million in grassroots football pitches.

A change in the law has been announced to extend Football Banning Orders to those who are abusive in connection with football on social media.


Refugees

See this government press release announcing “strengthened support for refugees in genuine need” as part of the second reading of the Nationality and Borders Bill.  


Judicial review

The government has introduced the Judicial Review and Courts Bill to Parliament this week. Our public & regulatory team has reviewed the two proposed reforms to judicial review. While the reforms are limited, they will still be of interest to public bodies and those seeking to challenge public law decisions.


Regulation

BEIS has launched a consultation Reforming the framework for better regulation seeking views on possible reforms to the UK regulatory framework post-Brexit.  It wants to base its approach to regulation on five principles: a sovereign approach; leading from the front; proportionality; recognising what works; and setting high standards at home and globally.  Proposals include making many of the detailed rules in the existing statutory framework less prescriptive and delegating more power and discretion to the regulatory bodies; making regulators more directly accountable to government and Parliament; a mandatory review of new regulatory measures after two years; and introducing a “one in, X out” condition for new regulations.  The consultation closes on 1 October 2021.


Elections and campaigning

What impact does the new Elections Bill have on charities and issue-based campaigners? Simon Steeden breaks down the key changes here.

Representatives from Friends of the Earth, the Sheila McKechnie Foundation and Bond gave evidence to the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee’s inquiry into the Electoral Commission – see here for Civil Society Media’s summary. 


Scotland

The Scottish Government has developed a plan to fund an enhanced single intermediary body with responsibility for representing the social enterprise sector across Scotland.  It has launched this survey for those within the sector to help to shape the purpose and objectives of the single intermediary body.


Stephen Lloyd Awards

Entrants with an early-stage project addressing a social problem in an innovative manner are invited to apply before 31 August 2021. Winners receive funding of up to £20,000, along with an opportunity to receive valuable pro bono support from experts in the charity and social enterprise sector. For full details on the application process and how to apply, please visit www.stephenlloydawards.org or email Mona Rahman at [email protected].


You might also be interested in…

Return to the Office webinar seriesnext instalment 10 August, 3pm

How has your organisation been dealing with plans to return to the office? Our new free employment webinar series includes topics such as remote performance management; a guide to long covid for HR professionals; and data protection and the challenges of online working, among others. Watch the recording of the previous session, Flexible working requests – what does the law require and what does the future hold?


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 July 27, 2021.