Coronavirus – government guidance
See here for the detail of the government’s Covid-19 Response: Autumn and Winter Plan 2021. Specifically in relation to businesses, the Plan states that the government will continue to update the suite of Working Safely guidance which sets out how businesses can reduce risks in the workplace for various sectors.
Coronavirus – mandatory vaccination of care home and health workers
From 11 November 2021, all care home workers and anyone entering a care home must be fully vaccinated unless exempt. The government predicts seven per cent of care home workers in England (some 40,000 out of 570,000 staff) will refuse to have the vaccine.
- The Department of Health and Social Care has published a letter setting out how, on a temporary basis, people working or volunteering in care homes can self-certify that they meet the medical exemption criteria. Once the NHS Covid Pass system is launched, a formal medical exemption will need to be applied for and any self-certification will expire after 12 weeks.
- Carehome.co.uk reports on 9 September 2021, judicial review proceedings were issued challenging the mandatory vaccination requirement. The proceedings are reported to have been brought on grounds including disproportionately impacting on women and those who identify as Black/Caribbean/Black British in contravention of Articles 8 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Department of Health and Social Care has now published a consultation on whether the mandatory Covid-19 vaccination requirements for workers deployed in care homes with older adult residents should be extended to other health and care settings and on whether to include flu vaccinations in the requirements. The requirements would not extend to those who are medically exempt from vaccination.
Coronavirus – impact on the sector
The Covid inquiry: what we know so far, and how it could impact your organisation As the UK comes to terms with the impact of the pandemic, there is a substantial and well justified public concern about key strategic decisions that were made throughout the crisis by the UK government. In this guide, we tackle some of the key questions you may have about how the Covid inquiry will work and how you can be involved. If you feel that your organisation, your stakeholders or beneficiaries, or the sector you represent were seriously impacted by the government’s decision-making, you may want to think about participating in the inquiry.
How did the UK charity sector perform during the pandemic? In this guest blog for New Philanthropy Capital (NPC), Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive of the British Asian Trust, argues that there was too much focus on the survival of charities themselves, rather than on the people and the causes charities exist for.
NPC has also:
- published “Rethink, Rebuild – 5 ideas for our post-pandemic future”.
- Released a recording of its recent event “Why health should be on all charities’ agenda”.
Last week Bates Wells partner Laura Soley and senior associate Lucy Rhodes submitted a Bates Wells’ submission to the House of Lords Special Public Bill Committee on the Charities Bill. Their comments centred on the Bill’s changes to governing documents section.
Appointment of new Chair
Civil Society Media reports that the Good Law Project is set to issue a legal challenge against the recruitment process.
Tax and VAT
Extension of Making Tax Digital
HMRC has published details of the proposed changes from 1st April 2022 requiring all VAT registered businesses below the current VAT registration threshold to operate Making Tax Digital (MTD) for their VAT reporting and record keeping obligations. HMRC anticipates this will impact approximately 1.1 million businesses and civil society organisations.
The Chartered Governance Institute has published a guidance note “The virtuous circle of good charity governance: the role of the governance professional”.
In a push against greenwashing, a ‘Green Claims Code’ has been published by the Competition and Markets Authority which aims to help businesses understand whether their environmental claims are misleading.
New Information Commissioner
MPs have approved the appointment of John Edwards as the new Information Commissioner. Mr Edwards is currently the New Zealand Privacy Commissioner and will take up his new role after Elizabeth Denham’s tenure ends on 31 October.
New blog about universities sharing data
The ICO has published this blog “Sharing personal data in an emergency – a guide for universities and colleges”.
Last week the ICO announced fines totalling £495,000:
- We Buy Any Car was fined £200,000 for sending more than 191 million emails. The firm also sent 3.6 million nuisance texts.
- Saga Services Ltd and Saga Personal Finance were fined £150,000 and £75,000 respectively for instigating more than 157 million emails between them.
- Sports Direct has been fined £70,000 for sending 2.5 million emails.
Public sector data
It’s still possible to sign up to the Government Data Quality Hub’s week of data events focusing on best practice and the biggest challenges in public sector data.
The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has launched a new stakeholder forum aimed at improving communications on issues around charity law, regulation and trends.
A briefing paper on the Charities Bill 2021 was presented to the Communities Committee by the Chief Executive and Chief Commissioner of the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland.
Local authorities will receive a funding boost when they support families with integration and settlement through the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme.
Health and social care
Catching up from last month, in August the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published a notice of its decision not to make a market investigation reference under section 131 of the Enterprise Act 2002 in relation to the supply of children’s social care services in England, Scotland and Wales. Back in March 2021, the CMA had notified its intention to examine the supply of children’s social care services. The CMA explains that its decision not to make a market investigation reference should not in any way be interpreted as the CMA finding no concerns in the sector, only that any potential concerns would not be best addressed through a market investigation. The CMA is planning to publish its emerging findings in the coming weeks, alongside its early thinking on potential measures to address any concerns it identifies. It will invite submissions on those findings. The CMA must publish the final report on its market study by 11 March 2022.
Social enterprise sector news
A ‘game-changing’ revolution taking shape in communities across the UK. Co-operatives UK CEO, Rose Marley, reviews the role a community can play in local business and considers the evolving concept of community ownership, marking the start of #CommunitiesWeek 2021.
Empowering businesses to unlock transformation: 47 days to COP26. In the leadup to COP26 in November, Responsible Finance examines how to empower SMEs to make positive interventions in the climate crisis, and the role of CDFIs in providing the necessary finance.
Social investment and social impact investing news
Business education must evolve. A faith-based lens can help relocate its purpose. As part of a series by Pioneers Post and the GIIN, a professor at the City University of London considers how faith-based approaches to business education could guide a new model one that respects nature and builds more sustainable economies, including faith-based investing.
Big Society Capital (“BSC”) has published a strategy “refresh”, “Our 2025 Strategy: Scaling Impact”, announcing a new target to double social investment flows by 2025. BSC’s CEO, Stephen Muers, shares his reflections on the new strategy in a blog post here. Also, Civil Society Media provides commentary on the announcement, and Pioneers Post interviews Stephen Muers on how the organisation plans to achieve the new goals.
Key Fund unveils £447million impact. Social Enterprise Mark reviews the impact of social investor Key Fund in the past 2 decades and how the Fund has achieved this success.
- The DfE has updated its guidance on relationships and sex education and health education to make clear that the guidance is now statutory. Schools must have regard to the guidance and, where they depart from those parts of the guidance which state that they should, or should not, do something, they will need to have good reasons for doing so.
- Children aged 12 to 15 in England will be offered one dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, following advice from the 4 UK Chief Medical Officers. The vaccines will be delivered in schools by the School Aged Immunisation Service. The DfE has issued a Q&A on the announcement and has also issued guidance on the Covid-19 vaccination programme.
- The DfE, the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England (along with a range of health delivery partners including the Royal Colleges) have developed guidance on the expectations for the delivery of specialist support for children and young people with SEND in education settings from autumn 2021 onwards. The guidance follows the impact that Covid-19 has had on the delivery of specialist support services.
- Schools Week reports on the new guidance from Ofsted that it will increase the number of academy trust evaluations next year. The guidance says a “broad range” of MATs will be chosen for evaluation, including “smaller and specialist MATs, not just those that may be a cause for concern”. The guidance adds: “This is to ensure that we can gain an accurate and balanced understanding of the contribution that MATs make to the school system, highlighting areas of strength that can be shared more widely and providing insight into any weaknesses.”
- Following a series of high-profile cyber attacks on the education sector during the pandemic, Schools Week reports that the DfE is piloting a new free cyber security tool to help schools to measure the robustness of their online security measures, before a full rollout in January.
- Schools Week reports that a few weeks after its launch, tutoring providers are refusing to sign up to the flagship National Tutoring Programme (a scheme to provide support for students most affected by disruption to their education as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic) due to disagreements over the tutoring contract, leading to delays for students in accessing tutoring.
- The National Governance Association has produced guidance in collaboration with the Youth Sport Trust to support governing boards in understanding, influencing and monitoring physical education and school sport provision within their school or trust.
Vocational training and higher education
- The DfE announced a new online service to help businesses to create more apprenticeship opportunities by making it easier for large businesses that pay the Apprenticeship Levy to pledge funds to smaller businesses. The announcement builds on the Prime Minister’s commitment from September 2020 to make apprenticeships more accessible.
- The Office for Students is consulting on students’ views on how they should set minimum requirements for quality and standards in English higher education, and how they should intervene when these are not met. The consultation on quality and standards is open until Monday 27 September.
Other news items
- Following the Cabinet reshuffle last week, the new Secretary of State for Education, Nadhim Zahawi (who has replaced Gavin Williamson), has written an introductory open letter to the sector. This Schools Week article outlines the new education ministers.
- The government has published its autumn and winter Covid plan, including details of which powers from the Coronavirus Act 2020 will be scrapped. According to the plan, the government intends to recommend to Parliament that the section of the Act which allows ministers to “direct the temporary closure of educational institutions and providers” be scrapped. However only “parts of” another section of the Act which allows ministers to give directions “requiring the provision, or continuing provision, of education, training and childcare” will be scrapped, including an element allowing the education secretary to modify the duty on councils to secure SEND provision in a young person’s education, health and care plan.
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 September 20, 2021.