Bates Wells Highlights
If you have not yet caught our Charities Bill series, you can catch up on all the blogs so far. Recent topics include the proposed changes relating to charity land and permanent endowment and restricted funds.
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 Charity Commission has updated its coronavirus guidance for charities.
The Information Commissioner’s Office has published guidance for public sector organisations on when the direct marketing rules apply to their messages
NCVO has published a new report “Levelling up: the role of charities and volunteering”.
The Education and Skills Funding Agency is to be reviewed.
A new National Plan for Music Education will be published next year.
Coronavirus – Live Events Reinsurance Scheme
The government has partnered with Lloyd’s to deliver the Live Events Reinsurance Scheme, a cost indemnification scheme which protects against costs incurred due to the event being legally unable to happen due to Government Covid restrictions. The scheme will be available from September 2021 and run until the end of September 2022. If events do have to cancel, after organisers have covered the agreed excess, the government and insurers have agreed a risk share per claim. This starts with government paying 95% and insurers 5%, progressing to them covering 97% and 3% respectively and finally government covering 100% of costs. The split depends on the losses incurred by the insurer from the scheme to date.
Coronavirus- commercial rent arrears
The government has published Supporting businesses with commercial rent debts: policy statement, in response to the call for evidence on commercial rents. The policy statement explains that the government will:
- Legislate to ringfence commercial rent debt accrued from March 2020 during the pandemic by businesses affected by enforced closures.
- Set out a process of binding arbitration to be undertaken between landlords and tenants. This is intended to be a last resort, to be used when negotiations have failed.
- Prior to legislating, publish the principles that will be embodied in the legislation in a revised Code of Practice, to allow landlords and tenants time to negotiate on that basis.
Unless further legislation is passed, the extension of section 82 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 to prevent forfeiture for non-payment of rent for business tenancies in England will continue until 25 March 2022 as previously announced.
If you have not yet caught our Charities Bill series, you can catch up on all the blogs so far. Topics include amending a corporate charity’s constitution; amending the governing document of a charitable trust; failed charity appeals; the law around legacies; rules relating to charity land; and permanent endowment and restricted funds.
The commission has updated its coronavirus guidance for charities to include amended guidance relating to trustee and member meetings.
- Charities without rules permitting meetings to be held online, by telephone or on a hybrid basis, or to be cancelled or postponed, are advised to update their governing document and to approve any previous decisions held contrary to their rules, as soon as possible. However, where this is not possible, charity trustees should regularly consider the wider risks and implications of holding meetings remotely or postponing or cancelling meetings where this is not allowed by the charity’s rules:
- In the short term as restrictions are lifted, the regulator will continue to take a proportionate approach where charity trustees decide to hold meetings on a remote or hybrid basis (where some people meet face-to-face and others join virtually) or to postpone or cancel an AGM or other required meeting, despite the lack of specific rules allowing for this in their charity’s governing document.
- In reaching their decision, charity trustees are expected to be able to show that they considered all relevant facts and possible alternatives, could not reasonably have made prior changes to their governing document, and followed all other rules governing their charity’s meetings. The Commission has stressed to charity trustees the importance of recording their decisions, and the reasons for them, should they be called into question in the future.
The Charity Commission has published its annual report on the statutory class inquiry into charities in default of their statutory obligations to meet reporting requirements by failing to file their annual documents for two or more years in the last five years. During the inquiry period (April 2020 – March 2021):
- 25 charities submitted their outstanding annual documents and continue to operate as charities.
- 19 charities were found to have ceased to exist or do not operate and were therefore removed from the register of charities
Four charities that persistently failed to submit their accounting information were issued with notice of the commission’s intention to give them an Official Warning, leading to two of those charities being issued with Official Warnings.
Tax and VAT
Charity Tax Group has provided updates on the following:
- Delays to approval of special Covid partial exemption methods: HMRC agreed that charities adversely affected by Covid could agree an alternate partial exemption method for 2020/21. However charities are experiencing significant delays in approvals for these methods. CTG has contacted HMRC to express concern about the delays. Further background on this issue can be read here.
- Claiming Gift Aid on Waived Refunds and Loan Repayments: CTG is arranging a meeting with HMRC officials to provide feedback on the guidance published to date and to try to agree some key principles for the application of this policy. This includes agreeing the content of a formal waiver agreement and the definition of “nominal” for these purposes. CTG would be interested to hear from any charities who have already made use of this provision and the approach taken. Further background on this issue can be read here.
ICO resource for public sector organisations
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published a new resource to help public sector organisations understand when the direct marketing rules will apply to their messages. In its press release on the guidance the ICO notes that although the majority of messages that public authorities send to individuals are unlikely to constitute direct marketing, direct marketing is broad, covering all types of advertising or marketing that is directed at individuals. Therefore, it can include messages that promote aims and ideals such as fundraising and campaigning as well as more commercial messages. In a public sector context, marketing messages could include services paid for by the user such as leisure facilities and messages promoting third party services but would generally not include messages promoting core tasks or functions of a public body such as helplines, guidance and resources.
See the Fundraising Regulator’s latest blog which explains how fundraising regulation is funded and why “paying the levy helps charities to demonstrate their commitment to the fundraising standards”.
Acceptance and refusal of donations policies
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has published a new guide entitled Consumer vulnerability: A guide to identifying consumers who may be vulnerable. This short guide, jointly produced by the CTSI and BEIS, is designed to help businesses identify and assist consumers who are vulnerable so that they can give the right level of support. It is intended to underpin and support a vulnerable consumer policy. (The guide is published as a consultation document, and the CTSI invites responses from businesses, though no deadline is given.)
The House of Lords Public Services Committee (Committee) has written to the government outlining these continued concerns that the proposals set out in the Procurement Green Paper (Green Paper):
- Prioritise competition to the detriment of collaboration among providers of public services, which could do “more harm than good”. The letter asks to what extent, if at all, the Procurement Bill will promote collaboration in the delivery of public services ahead of competition between service providers.
- Give insufficient recognition to the important role played by the voluntary sector in embedding social value. The Green Paper proposed the creation of a National Procurement Policy Statement to shape the government’s priorities for achieving social value, however, a concern raised at one of the evidence sessions was that this could place bureaucratic requirements on local service providers, rather than supporting the flexibility needed to address local priorities and need. The letter asks how the Procurement Bill will rectify these shortcomings.
- Do not align with the Health and Social Care Bill. It asks how the government will ensure that procurement and healthcare legislation align.
The Committee is seeking a response from the government to the questions set out in the letter as soon as possible.
OSCR has two free upcoming online events: Meet the Charity Regulator 2021 on 23 September 2021 and Transparency and Trust – 27 October 2021, see website for details.
OSCR has published its Reporter newsletter for August, which includes a round-up of recent news stories.
NCVO has published a new report “LEVELLING UP: THE ROLE OF CHARITIES AND VOLUNTEERING”. The report focuses on three areas where the government can support charities and volunteers to realise the ambitions of the levelling up agenda:
- Power and decision making: the report calls for decision making to be more devolved, with more power in the hands of communities and local institutions.
- Funding and resources: long-term funding should be secured through community endowments, boosted philanthropy and more sustainable local government mechanisms and powers.
- Community, space and participation: spaces and places in communities to be hubs for building and harnessing relationships, opportunities and ideas.
Social investment and social impact investing news
What does ‘Economic long Covid’ mean for local businesses? 17 months into the pandemic, Social Investment Business (SIB) explores how coastal businesses are faring, noting its consideration of whether a fund could be established to support indebted but viable businesses to transition into more inclusive and distributive models, and noting the expected publication of a report on the findings of its Debt-for-Equity campaign.
Golden Lane Housing raises £11m through Social Bond offer. The charity Golden Lane Housing, which provides housing to people with learning disabilities, announced the early close of its fundraising round, having sold £11m of the social bonds from special purpose issuer Retail Charity Bonds PLC and managed by Allia C&C.
Emerging Futures secures £2.3m loan from SASC to expand and improve supported housing portfolio. Emerging Futures, a not-for-profit organisation that provides emergency and transitional supported housing for vulnerable people, has received a £2.3m social investment loan from Social and Sustainable Capital (SASC).
In a guest blog for Big Society Capital called Eka Ventures: Our Thesis, a Founding Partner of Eka Ventures explains Eka’s approach to impact investing and the theory behind its recently launched impact-driven venture capital fund.
Bridges backs World of Books for new chapter of high-impact growth story. Bridges Sustainable Growth Fund III, which is managed by specialist sustainable and impact investor Bridges Ventures, has invested £13m to buy a majority stake in World of Books, a market-leading ‘circular economy’ technology business for used books.
Culture and creative
See here for a press release about the Turing Scheme, which will fund study overseas. The full list of higher education institutes, schools, and further education and vocational education and training providers awarded funding is available here.
The Education and Skills Funding Agency is to be reviewed by an Independent Lead Reviewer to ensure its continued effectiveness. The review will consider the ESFA’s operating model, governance, accountability model and impact.
The Communities Minister has launched education programmes intended to support Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils with educational attainment and reducing drop-out rates.
A new National Plan for Music Education will be published next year.
Ofqual has published full details on how students can access its Exam Procedures Review Service in 2021. Schools Week has summarised what students and schools need to know about appealing exam results.
The latest ESFA update for academies can be found here.
A new £7million fund has been launched to create new flexible apprenticeships in the creative, agricultural and construction industries.
The latest ESFA update for further education can be found here.
Funding has been increased by the DfE to allow over 9,000 additional places for students on medical and dentistry courses in 2021, in response to the huge number of applicants with high grades.
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 series– next instalment 2 September, 11am
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 a 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 August 9, 2021.