Bates Wells Briefing for Charities & Social Enterprises | 24 August

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

Not For Profit

Coronavirus – impact on the sector

NCVO has published this summary of how charities are responding to the government’s lifting of Covid-19 restrictions. As well as reporting increased difficulties with recruiting volunteers, charities report increased disagreement between staff and volunteers due to differing opinions on the precautions organisations should put in place to deliver services and activities safely. 

Charities Bill

Have you considered how the new Bill could affect your charity’s social investment activities? Our latest blog on the Charities Bill outlines key changes, focusing on investing permanent endowment and the restrictions on dispositions of land.

Charity Commission

“The Commission has published a blog from Chief Executive Helen Stephenson “Listening to charities’ experiences of the coronavirus pandemic.” 

Responsible investment

The Charity Commission has published a summary of consultation responses after a six-week consultation on new guidance for charities on responsible investment. There were 211 responses to the consultation, including 173 from charities. The commission says that there were many positive comments from charity respondents about the clarity of the draft guidance update and its likely contribution to improved trustee confidence. However, the commission also says that the consultation results also show that there are areas to continue to carefully consider: most notably the terminology used, and a perceived implication in the draft guidance update that a responsible investment approach means lower returns.

Civil Society also provides commentary on the responses.

Climate change

See below under Fundraising, Charity shops and under Housing.


The Guardian reports the chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, Caroline Nokes, leading the inquiry into menopause discrimination in the workplace, has declined to rule out the possibility of recommending a change to the Equality Act 2010 (EqA 2010) to strengthen protection for menopausal women who suffer discrimination at work. According to the chair, some responses to the inquiry have indicated that menopausal women do not feel that they have adequate legal protection due to the lack of clarity in the legislation, leading many to bring claims for disability discrimination. The Committee may seek to change the EqA 2010 to recognise menopause as a protected characteristic, if the outcome of the inquiry shows that the current legislation is not working.

Data protection

First GDPR certification schemes

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has approved the first UK GDPR certification scheme criteria.  Certification was brought in under the UK GDPR as a way to help organisations demonstrate compliance with data protection rules.  It works by providing a framework for organisations to follow. Compliance with certification schemes is voluntary but the ICO says will “demonstrate that [they] have the highest level of commitment to data protection compliance”. The first three schemes, which will now be rolled out, are:

  • Age Check Certification Scheme (ACCS) have developed criteria for two schemes, the first relating to age assurance and the second looking at children’s online privacy. Michael Charalambous, Bates Wells trainee comments “These two schemes will be particularly useful to demonstrate compliance with the ICO’s Age Appropriate Design Code which organisations will need to comply with by 2 September.” 
  • ADISA, experts in IT asset disposal services, have developed a standard that ensures personal data has been handled appropriately when IT equipment is re-used or destroyed.

ICO fines

The ICO has fined Halifax-based company Parkin Beacher Ltd (PBL) £50,000 for making illegal marketing calls to people about their pensions.

Research into data use in the third sector

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has published research into data foundations and AI adoption in the UK private and third sectors. (Data foundations is defined as data that is fit for purpose, recorded in standardised formats on modern, future-proof systems and findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (FAIR). The findings from the research include that although data is deemed important to the success and growth of organisations across the third sector, the level of data foundations adoption in the third sector was found to be relatively low compared with the private sector.



NICVA reports in Northern Ireland, from 7 September, charities and other societies will be able to promote and sell their tickets over the internet. This is due to an amendment (via a Statutory Rule) to The Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 to allow for the sale of a lottery ticket or chance by means of the internet. NICVA also reports that other changes relating to gambling and fundraising by charities, such as the need to remove the £1 cap on the price of a ticket, are to be included in a forthcoming Gambling Bill. 

Charity shops/climate change

UK Net Zero Business Champion Andrew Griffith MP has written to organisations in the retail sector about steps they can take to fight climate change. The letter asks organisations in the retail sector to make a formal commitment to net zero as part of the Together For Our Planet Business Climate Leaders campaign. It also encourages organisations to read the UK Business Climate Hub for guidance on how they can fight climate change.


OSCR has published its annual report and accounts for 2020-21.

Key figures for 2020-21 include:

  • 817 Scottish charities registered (874 in 2019-20)
  • 96% consent to change applications considered within the required timescale
  • 426 concerns about charities handled (620 in 2019-20)

Northern Ireland

See under Fundraising above.

NI Charities Bill

NICVA has published a response to the consultation on the NI Charities Bill 2021.  (This Bill is different to the Charities Bill making its way through Parliament – this Bill is designed to make provision about the lawfulness of decisions taken or other things done by staff of the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, and about exempting charities, by reference to conditions related to thresholds, from the duty to be registered in the register of charities.) For anyone else wanting to respond to the consultation, the closing date for receipt of responses is Friday 3 September 2021.

Sector specific:

Services for families

The Government has set out plans to expand its Family Hubs programme, backed by £20 million of new funding. This will support councils to set up new Family Hubs in up to 10 new areas. Family Hubs offer families, children and young people somewhere to access a range of support services, which can include early education and childcare, mental health support, meetings with health visitors or attending parenting classes, counselling or advice for victims of domestic abuse.

Health and social care

The Better Care Fund (BCF) has been increased this year to “continue driving integration between the health and social care system and support local recovery from the pandemic”. The BCF will be a minimum of £6.9 billion in 2021 to 2022, including £4.3 billion of NHS funding and £2.1 billion from the improved Better Care Fund (iBCF) grant to local authorities and £573 million from the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG). The funding is to help people to stay at home and live independently as far as possible, to minimise the time spent in hospital, and to help them recover after they leave hospital by enabling access to care and support services if needed.

Social enterprise sector news

Change Please acquisition to see 55 AMT Coffee sites ‘converted’ to social mission. Pioneers Post reports that the UK social enterprise has acquired the coffee bar chain, taking on 370 staff, as part of a pandemic-assisted acquisition strategy to create more social businesses.

Business as usual isn’t good enough – so what can we do? After the publication of a major report on climate change earlier this month, Co-operatives UK explores how co-operatives – and social enterprises – can work together to amplify their impact, and calls for co-operatives to share news of their climate initiatives.

Social investment and social impact investing news

See above under Charity Commission. 

It’s time to back black and minority ethnic social entrepreneurs. Pioneers Post talks with social entrepreneurs, Izzy Obeng and Bayo Adelaja, about what kind of support is needed to help black and minority ethnic founders grow their social businesses, with a particular focus on the need for dedicated funding for this group.

Afghanistan/funding for Afghan refugees

Bates Wells believes that urgent legal reform is needed to help high-risk groups leave Afghanistan. The right to evacuate should be expanded to include human rights activists, lawyers and academics – and that Government needs to offer support and assurances to NGOs working to help their people on the ground in Afghanistan.

As you’ve probably seen, last week the UK government doubled humanitarian and development aid to Afghanistan.

Councils in England, Scotland and Wales will have access to a share of £5 million to help them provide the necessary housing and support to Afghans who have worked for this country in Afghanistan, but who now face threats of persecution or worse.  The Afghan LES (Locally Employed Staff) Housing Costs Fund will provide a top up to help councils meet the costs of renting properties for those that need it, including larger homes for families.  Additional healthcare provision and access to Covid-19 vaccinations will also be provided to support Afghans coming to the UK via the Afghanistan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme.

For anyone struggling as a result of the recent events in Afghanistan, the government has published details of a range of support services available across the United Kingdom for veterans and those affected.

Bond and British and Irish Agencies in Afghanistan Group (BAAG) have called on the UK government to use its diplomatic levers to enable humanitarian organisations and their partners to continue to deliver assistance to people safely, and support those wanting to leave Afghanistan.  

International development/Haiti

Last week the Government announced a package of up to £1 million of initial support to Haiti. This is in addition to UK contributions to the UN Central Emergency Response Fund, the Red Cross Disaster Relief Emergency Fund and the Start Fund, which have allocated funding of £5.8 million, £600,000, and £250,000 respectively.



As part of improvements to ventilation within schools, CO2 monitors are to be provided to all state-funded education settings from September. Given their higher-than-average numbers of vulnerable pupils, special schools and alternative provision will be prioritised to receive their full allocation from September. The government has also launched a trial of air purifiers in 30 schools in Bradford, which is designed to assess the technology in education settings and whether they could reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19.

See here for the latest ESFA Updates for academies, schools, colleges, local authorities and further education providers. 


Local authorities and housing associations across England can now access a £160 million Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund set up to enhance the country’s energy efficiency of socially rented homes. It’s expected this first wave of funding will benefit up to 38,000 of the UK’s worst energy-performing social housing properties – ie those with energy performance certificate (EPC) ratings of D or below. An overall £3.8 billion is expected to be spent over a 10-year period.

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Stephen Lloyd Awards- one week to go!

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 or email Mona Rahman at [email protected].

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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, Beyond Covid-19: Five Key Considerations for a Post-Pandemic Workplace.

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 24, 2021.